(photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Egypt's largest opposition movement demanded Wednesday that President Hosni Mubark dissolve the newly elected parliament and hold new elections, in a move that appeared to be an attempt to capitalize on the hopes for change sparked by Tunisia's popular uprising.
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The Muslim Brotherhood also called for an end to Egypt's 30-year-old emergency law that bans political rallies, and demanded sweeping constitutional amendments to allow free and fair presidential elections.
The Brotherhood's list of grievances is not new, but the demands appeared to be aimed at seizing on the momentum triggered by the revolt in Tunisia that toppled the country's authoritarian president and galvanized opposition movements throughout the Arab world.
"The events in Tunisia are a cornerstone for the rest of the people of the Arab and Islamic world," the Brotherhood said in a statement posted on its website. "It is a message to all the despotic leaders and the corrupt regimes that they are not safe and they are living on the tip of a volcano of people's anger and God's wrath."
The group also urged Egypt's government to fight graft and put corrupt officials on trial, and warned that if it "does not move fast and shoulder responsibility to start a serious reform process, stability might not last for long."
The Brotherhood failed to win even a single seat in last year's parliamentary elections — after taking home a fifth of parliament's seats five years earlier. The movement, which is banned but runs candidates as independents, and other opposition parties say the vote was rigged.
The escalation in the group's demands come as Egyptian activists — galvanized by the Tunisia uprising — have held small street protests in solidarity with the Tunisians.
This week, four Egyptian men attempted to set themselves on fire. One of the men died Tuesday from severe burns.
The desperate act of protest appeared to be attempts to copycat the
fatal self-immolation of a 26-year-old Tunisian last month — an act that
helped spark the protests that toppled Tunisia's authoritarian
Opposition movements elsewhere in the region have also seized on the events in Tunisia.
On Tuesday, the Jordanian wing of the Brotherhood called on Jordan's
King Abdullah II to dismiss the Cabinet and allow for the formation of
an interim government to supervise a new election.
The complaints mirror those that ultimately pushed Tunisia's president
from power. But analysts believe that both Egypt and Jordan are not as
vulnerable as Tunisia.