Brotherhood to join ‘Friday of Persistence’ rally

Rally likely to bolster "million-person protest" by those unhappy with way military council has been running Egypt since fall of Mubarak.

By OREN KESSLER, REUTERS
July 8, 2011 02:46
2 minute read.
Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood leaders [file]

Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood leaders 311 (R). (photo credit: Amr Dalsh / Reuters)

 
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Egypt’s best-organized political group, the Muslim Brotherhood, will participate in a mass rally planned for Cairo on Friday to demand quicker reforms, and the government urged organizers to ensure that the demonstration would be peaceful.

The Brotherhood’s participation in the so-called “Friday of Persistence” rally is likely to bolster what secular activists have billed as a million-person protest by those unhappy with the way the military council has been running Egypt since the ouster of president Hosni Mubarak in February.

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Activists complain that recent events, including the use of force by police against demonstrators, court rulings clearing three ministers in Mubarak’s government of graft, and the release of police officers accused of killing protesters, went against reforms.

On Thursday the head of Egypt’s Judicial Investigation Commission ordered 25 people, including Mubarak aides, to stand trial for instigating a camel charge aimed at breaking up mass protests in February.

Among those sent for trial were Fathi Sorour, a former speaker in the lower house of parliament, and Safwat Sherif, a former head of parliament’s upper house.

Several top activists have criticized the Brotherhood for having taken a back seat during the mass protests against Mubarak, and for labeling protesters who tried to organize further sit-ins in Cairo’s Tahrir Square in March and April as “thugs.”

The Brotherhood initially said it intended to boycott rallies when the goal was to pressure the military council to delay parliamentary elections scheduled for September.



“Then there were new developments on the subject that necessitated putting it for debate once more,” the Brotherhood said in a statement posted Wednesday on its website.

It cited a change in the objectives of protest organizers in which they dropped their demand to delay the elections. It also cited grievances raised by families of Egyptians killed in the revolution and foot-dragging in trials of Mubarak supporters.

In a March referendum, 77 percent of voters said they backed constitutional amendments that would allow the military rulers to hold parliamentary elections in September.

Last week, more than 1,000 people were injured in clashes between police and hundreds of stone-throwing youths in Cairo, the worst violence in the capital in several weeks. The military council said the latest events “had no justification other than to shake Egypt’s safety and security.”

The state-run Al-Ahram newspaper reported Thursday that the government planned to reshuffle senior police figures to remove officers implicated in some of the more violent crackdowns on protesters in January.

The paper quoted Minister General Mansour el-Essawy as saying he plans major changes to the police force that will include the dismissal of hundreds of topranking officers and promotion of mid-ranking officers.

“The changes will be the biggest in the history of the ministry,” he said.

For decades the Mubarak government employed Al- Ahram – Egypt’s most widely circulated newspaper – as a platform for anti-Israel and anti-US sentiment to divert attention from its domestic failings. Post-Mubarak, little in its editorial comment appears to have changed.

“In the million-man demonstrations held in Tahrir Square, only once did the demonstrators make a point of hoisting the Palestinian flag. This poses some questions about the long-term impact of these revolutions on the region and the course of the conflict with Zionists,” ran an editorial this week.

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