Cairo: Muslim Brotherhood to protest army's power

US officials meet with group’s representatives; Brotherhood official: Those who oppose Shari’a are "drunks, druggies or adulterers."

Muslim Brotherhood supporters 311 (photo credit: Mohamed Abd el-Ghany/Reuters)
Muslim Brotherhood supporters 311
(photo credit: Mohamed Abd el-Ghany/Reuters)
The Muslim Brotherhood will join other Islamist and youth groups in staging a mass protest in Cairo on Friday against a constitutional proposal that would shield Egypt’s powerful military from parliamentary oversight.
The Brotherhood said the demonstration would be the first in a series of rallies intended to pressure the cabinet to withdraw plans that could allow the army to defy the will of the country’s soon-to-be elected government.
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Most polls show the Brotherhood taking at least a plurality of votes in parliamentary elections scheduled for November 28.
“We negotiated with the cabinet, which insisted on clinging to non-democratic principles, leaving us with no alternative but to join the mass protest to protect democracy,” the Brotherhood said in a statement, Reuters reported. Egypt’s BikyaMasr website predicted that hundreds of thousands of people could answer the call to hit the streets.
The protest would mark an escalation in tension between the military and the longbanned Brotherhood, Egypt’s two most influential institutions in the aftermath of February’s ouster of longtime president Hosni Mubarak.
Meanwhile, US officials have held their first meeting with Brotherhood representatives at the movement’s new main office, the Islamist group’s IkhwanWeb website reported.
US officials held their first meeting with Brotherhood representatives last month, but Monday marked their first visit to the movement’s gleaming new multistory headquarters in southeastern Cairo.
The website said Essam El-Erian, vice chairman of the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, met with Jacob Wells, a representative from the State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, and Peter Chi, undersecretary for economic and political affairs at the American Embassy in Cairo.
“The Arab people wish to establish democratic states inspired by the Arab and Islamic cultures advocating religious values, and adding a new example to democratic systems in the world,” Erian told the officials, according to IkhanWeb. “For his part, Jacob Wells stated that the US administration was reviewing its former stances. The US respects the Arab people’s desire to build a democratic system, he said, and it is significant that the rights and freedoms of all including women and minorities be protected,” the website reported.
“Erian emphasized that the US administration should support the Palestinian rights, and respect the will of the Palestinian people to secure a free and independent state,” IkhwanWeb reported.
“The US should do what’s morally correct and condemn the repeated attacks and arrests of the Palestinians, by the Israeli occupation forces,” it quoted the Brotherhood leader as saying.
Earlier this week, Erian told a conference in Cairo, “No one in Egypt – not a Copt, a liberal, a leftist, no one – dares say they are against Islam and the application of Shari’a: all say they want the Islamic Shari’a. And when referendum time comes, whoever says ‘We do not want Shari’a’ will expose their hidden intentions.”
The Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Report, an online intelligence newsletter, said Erian threatened Egypt’s military council with “massacres” if it interfered in politics and Islam’s role in the constitution. Addressing Coptic Christians, he said, “You will never find a strong fortress for your faith and rights except in Islam and Shari’a... Our Lord has commanded us to be just, and we have learned it from Islam. We do not wish to hurt anyone.”
Another Brotherhood leader, Sheikh Sayyid Abdul Karim, told the 5,000 conference attendees: “Those who do not wish to see Islam [i.e. Shari’a law] applied are drunks, druggies, adulterers and brothel-owners.”
Raymond Ibrahim, an Egyptian-American writer on Islam at the California-based David Horowitz Freedom Center, wrote that the Brotherhood’s more candid rhetoric reflects its growing comfort in the media spotlight.
Blogging on the Jihad Watch website on Tuesday, Ibrahim wrote, “While such talk is commonplace from Egypt’s self-styled Salafists, it is significant that the Muslim Brotherhood, which has mastered the art of stealth, the art of appearing ‘moderate’ – to the point that President Obama’s intelligence chief described them as ‘largely secular’ – is beginning to feel comfortable enough to let snippets of the truth come out.”