CAIRO — Al-Qaida's deputy leader, Ayman al-Zawahri, issued the terror network's first message since the upheaval began in Egypt on Friday, saying the country's rule has long "deviated from Islam" and warning that democracy "can only be non-religious."
In the 34-minute videotape issued Friday, al-Zawahri makes no mention on the protests or former president Hosni Mubarak's fall. The video is dated to the Islamic lunar month of Safar, which corresponds with the dates Jan. 5-Feb. 3. It gives no more specific date for its creation.
The only hints that it may have been made since the upheaval that began Jan. 25 were its title, "A Message of Hope and Glad Tidings to Our People in Egypt," and a vague reference by al-Zawahri to "what happened and happens in Egypt."
In it, he gives a long, detailed lecture on Egypt's modern history from the 18th Century, blaming Western colonialists for implanting secular, un-Islamic law, according to a transcript by the SITE Intel group, a US group that monitors militant messages. It said the video, which showed only a still photo of al-Zawahri as his voice is aired, was posted on Islamic militant websites.
The video said it was the first of two parts, aimed at answering the question "what is the reality through which Egypt is living?"