• 17:49
  • Tuesday ,06 September 2011

Most Islamist groups, parties steering clear of Friday protest

By-Heba Fahmy-Daily News Egypt

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Tuesday ,06 September 2011

Most Islamist groups, parties steering clear of Friday protest

CAIRO: Most Islamist groups and parties announced Monday that they will not participate in mass protests scheduled for Friday dubbed “Correcting the Path” in Tahrir Square, to avoid clashes with the armed forces stationed there.

Some groups planned to join the Sept. 9 protests while others remained on the fence.
“We are against all protests that aim to cause clashes between protesters and the military … we don’t want chaos in Egypt,” Youssry Hamad, spokesperson for Al-Nour Party, told Daily News Egypt.
“We refuse any protests against the military council at this time,” head of Al-Fadila Party told DNE.
Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya, the Salafi Al-Nour and Al-Fadila parties will not participate.
Saad El-Katatny, secretary general of the Freedom and Justice Party, also said the party will not participate in the protests since most of the revolution’s demands have been met.
The Muslim Brotherhood (MB) however was still contemplating their decision. But Rashad Bayoumi, deputy leader of the MB, told DNE that the group was leaning towards boycotting the mass protests as well.
“We need to save our energy and effort to rebuild our country,” he said, adding that the country needs peace and rebuilding now more than anything else.
Bayoumi said the group will announce its final decision after a meeting on Wednesday.
Security and military forces have been deployed in the square since Aug. 1, following a military crackdown on protesters forcing them to evacuate the square and dispersing a sit-in that started on July 8.
Meanwhile, several political powers including the April 6 Youth Movement, Kefaya, the Coalition of the Youth of the Revolution and Al-Tagammu and Al-Ghad parties will take part in the Sept. 9 protests, stressing that they will be “peaceful.”
“We’ve always followed the principle of holding peaceful protests without stirring any violence ever since the revolution,” Mohamed Abbas, a member of the youth coalition, said.
Hamad, however, was still skeptical.
“They said they were peaceful when they caused the clashes in Abasseya as well and we’ve all seen how that ended,” he said.
On July 23, Tahrir protesters were surrounded by residents and armed men in Abasseya during a march towards the defense ministry in a bid to highlight their demands. Clashes erupted leaving one person dead and at least 296 injured. Residents blamed the clashes on Tahrir protesters claiming they were armed and infiltrated by “thugs.”
On its part, Al-Wasat Party, described by many as an Islamist party, decided to discuss the matter with more liberal parties before making a final decision.
“If we can agree with political powers to call for one demand, which is amending the People’s Assembly and Shoura Council laws…then we will participate,” said Tarek Al-Malt, spokesperson of Al-Wasat Party.
The party will meet with Al-Wafd and other political parties late Monday to announce their final decision.
Protesters’ demands include amending the PA and Shoura Council laws, ending military trials of civilians, setting a specific timeframe for handing over power to a civilian government and setting a reasonable minimum and maximum wage.
Political powers believe that combining the closed party lists and individual candidates’ systems, with 50 percent allocated to each, will give the opportunity to remnants of the former regime to take over the parliament through bribes and corruption.
“This system will give leverage to wealthy figures of the former regime and allow tribalism to take over in the upcoming elections, while depriving the youth from getting a fair chance,” said Mohamed Farag, assistant secretary general of Al-Tagammu Party.
Safwat Abdel Ghani, member of Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya's shoura council, voiced a different sentiment saying that political powers needed to focus creating a peaceful, safe atmosphere to hold free and fair elections.
On its part, the Free Egyptians Party, which has been a harsh critic of Islamist groups since its establishment, took a different stance, voicing the Islamist groups’ same concerns.
“We always participate in Friday protests as long as they serve the nation and don’t call for threatening or attacking the army like this one seems to be,” Mohamed Hamed, member of the party’s political bureau, said.
He added that the party is yet to announce its final stance after a meeting late Monday with the Egyptian Bloc, which comprises a number of liberal and leftist parties including the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, the Democratic Front Party, Al-Tagammu, Al-Wa'y and Masr Al-Horreya.