Egyptian capital sees rally with big turnout of Islamists

11:48, July 30, 2011      

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Tens of thousands of Egyptians gathered in Cairo's Tahrir Square on Friday, with mass participation of Islamist groups.

Protesters at the epicenter of the 18-day protests that forced former president Hosni Mubarak to step down stressed "unity and public will," ignoring the scorching sun.

"We are all here today, all the parties, movements and coalitions are united to prove to the whole world that the Egyptians can't be disbanded," said Mostafa Fatah, 32, one of the protesters.

"The Egyptian people and the army stand together," shouted the crowds.

A preacher on the square urged the Egyptians to unite and stand with the supreme military council until it transfers power to an elected president.

Despite an agreement among various groups, fears emerge about possible tensions between the Islamist and secular groups who have been camping out on the square since July 8.

"The Egyptians want to clear the square," shouted a group of Salafists, who meant an end to the prolonged sit-in, while other protesters chanted "the Egyptians want to purge the regime," demanding more reforms. Some protesters called for the resignation of the supreme council.

"But the supreme council is the only hope of Egypt's stability until the presidential elections," Abd-Elmenem el-Shahat, spokesman for the Salafists told state TV.

Friday's protest was marked by the participation of the Muslim Brotherhood members and the Salafists.

About half a million of Salafists joined the "public will and unity" Friday protest nationwide, official MENA news agency said, quoting a Salafi group official on the Tahrir Square. The Salafists expressed full support for the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which took power on Feb. 11.

In Arish city in the northern part of the Sinai Peninsula, deadly clashes occurred when a group of armed men attacked a police station, forcing the security forces to fight back.

At least three people, including an 11-year-old child and an army officer, were killed and 12 others injured in the fighting. But a local hospital source put the death toll at four.

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces has sent a military plane to transfer the injured to a military hospital.

In Suez, thousands of people took to the streets chanting slogans "Islamic jurisdiction should be applied."

"The Islamist movements want the whole world to know their big influence and power on the Egyptian streets, and their ability to rally people at any time," said Walaa Ismaiel, a 23-year-old dentist who joined the protest in Tahrir Square.

"I came here to join people from all walks of life, but we discovered the unity was a big lie, and the Islamists just want to show their power," she added.

Youth groups and some parties have accused Islamist groups of taking advantage of the rally to expand their influence, as they held banners calling for the application of Sharia and Islamic law.

By Friday evening, Islamists left Tahrir Square. Secular groups vowed to continue their demonstration.

The rally came ahead of trial of Mubarak and his two sons due in Cairo on Aug. 3. Ex-interior minister Habib el-Adli and six of his aides, a fugitive businessman will stand trial with Mubarak. They face charges of killing protesters and corruption.

Mubarak's trial would be held in a police academy, instead of the Cairo Expo center which was announced on Thursday, state TV reported on Friday. But the change of venue has not been officially announced.

Source: Xinhua
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