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Friday is a day of 'national unity' in Egypt

Friday's demonstration will aim to restrengthen the bonds that tie Egyptians while also drawing attention to unmet demands of the revolution

Ahram Online, Thursday 12 May 2011
Egyptian Muslims and Christians
Egyptian Muslims and Christians raise a copy of the Quran and a Cross in Shubra district of Cairo (photo: AP)
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The Coordination Committee of the People of the January 25 Revolution are preparing a ‎fresh million-man march under a slogan that reads “national unity, the safety of the citizen ‎and supporting the Palestinian cause.”‎

The Youth Revolution Coalition, National Association for Change, Socialists Forces Front, the Board of Trustees of the revolution, the Muslim Brotherhood and many public figures are among those calling for tomorrow's march.

The committee says protesters will rally in Tahrir Square, the epicentre of the revolt that ‎resulted in the overthrow of currently ‎detained former president Hosni Mubarak, as well as squares across the nation. ‎

During the march, which starts from 11am, the protesters will call for the ‎fulfillment of the as yet unmet demands of the revolution. These include the trial of Mubarak, his family members and other former regime figures accused of ‎corruption. ‎

The demonstrators will also demand the sacking of all the former regime figures who still ‎hold governmental positions, including Deputy Prime Minister Yehia El-Gamal and ‎Minister of Local Development Mohsen El-Nomani. ‎

Dismantling the local councils, maintaining security across the country and the release of ‎the protesters who were arrested on 9 March and sentenced by military courts are also among the demands.‎

Concerning Palestine, the committee underlined its support ‎for the reconciliation agreement recently signed by Fatah and Hamas, and ‎for all Arabs in search of freedom. ‎

The last million-man march was supposed to be held on 15 April but the arrest of Mubarak, his sons‎ and a host of other former oligarchs three days earlier appeased the organisers.‎

Before Friday's demonstration, a march is planned today in Imbaba to ease tensions after Saturday's bloody attack on Copts and console ‎those who ‎lost family members. It is not the first such demonstration of unity this week. On Monday, a similar march proceeded through Imbaba in response to the bloody attack on Copts in the neighbourhood last Saturday. Hundreds of ‎Muslims and Copts walking side-‎by-side, waving Egyptian flags and chanting anti-‎sectarian slogans such as "Muslim ‎and Copts, [are] one hand."

The meeting point of today's march is Wehda Street, ‎where the ‎second church, The Virgin Mary, was set on fire, at 4pm. The plan is to ‎move towards the Mar Mina Church and end at El-Shagara Square.‎

‎“There has been turbulence in Imbaba over the past few days,” said Ihab Ali, coordinator of Imbaba's ‎‎popular committees which is among those calling for the march. “We sat down with moderate ‎‎Salafists, Muslim Brotherhood members and Copts and discussed possible ways to ‎‎cool things down.‎

‎“We asked the Islamists to give pacifying speeches on Friday’s prayers to stress national unity and denounce sectarian strife … We have concerns that some of the ‎‎victims’ families might seek revenge, whether Muslims or Christians, especially that ‎‎most of Imbaba’s residents are from Upper Egypt. I think if nothing happens until ‎‎Friday, then we are safe.‎"

Ali made reference to the family’s origins in Upper Egypt due to the region's tribal mentality and prevalence of revenge killings and blood feuds.

‎“Copts and Muslims, Imbaba's residents as well as sheikhs from Al-Azhar will take part in the march. It’s an open invitation: everyone can come,”‎ added Ali.

Several prominent Egyptian figures took part in the first march, such as writers Hamdy ‎‎Qandil and Ahdaf Soueif; the Google exec who organised the first day of the demonstrations, Wael Ghoneim and head of the National Association for Change, Abdel Galil Mutafa. ‎

Copts and Muslims exchanged gunfire, Molotov cocktails and stones Saturday as two ‎‎churches were set ablaze in Imbaba following rumours that a convert to Islam, Abeer ‎‎Talaat, was being held captive in Mar Mina Church. The ensuing violence left 12 dead ‎‎and 240 injured.‎

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