A Tahrir iftar and sufi chanting for 12 August's "For the love of Egypt" Friday

Ekram Ibrahim , Friday 12 Aug 2011

With many of its original organisers calling for a postponement the planned 12 August Friday "for the love of Egypt" looks to have dwindled to a Tahrir iftar, held amidst Sufi chanting and poetry

Sufi group holding a banner in Tahrir Square. (photo : Fouad Mansour)

Since the January 25 Revolution, revolutionaries have been protesting in Tahrir Square almost every Friday, with each Friday having a theme, and on occasion, unique demands.

This Friday, after military forces dispersed a three-week sit-in 1 August, and after Salafists dominated Friday, 29 July, which was supposed to be a show of unity, some political parties began organising a new demonstration which was due to be held in Tahrir Square on Friday 21 August.

The key demand has been to ensure Egypt's future as a civil, not Islamic state. But after meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Ali El-Selmi, the majority of groups behind the call to stage a Friday "For the Love of Egypt" have called off the demonstration.

Ostensibly postponing the mass rally until next Friday, 19 August, after their meeting with El-Selmi, political groups announced they were awaiting a promised statement by Prime Minister Essam Sharaf on supra-constitutional principles, to be released within days.

El-Selmi told the groups during the meeting that the ruling military council is negotiating with Islamists on a set of supra-constitutional principles.

Debate on the topic of Friday went on the whole week. Only three Sufi Orders and 30 political movements have confirmed their continued participation in Friday's event, which is planned to be a breaking of the fast after sunset.

The 30 political movements include the Ahmed Maher front of the 6 April Movement, and Coptic and Sufi groups.

“The celebration this Friday is ongoing and we are inviting every Egyptian to join us. We ask the people not to be drawn by the lies broadcast by the Egyptian official media and other media who were bowing to official orders in announcing the cancelation of the day,” said the Ahmed Maher front in a press statement issued Thursday.

The Tahrir Egyptian Sufi Party has announced its participation on the 12 August Friday. The head of the Tahrir Egyptian Sufi Party said he has handed a memo on the “For the Love of Egypt” Friday to the head of Cairo security and that he was planning to hand in a similar notice to the interior ministery.

Meanwhile, 62 political parties and movements agreed to postpone Friday's demonstration, among them the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, El-Adl Party, El-Ghad Party, the Democratic Front, Karama Party, the National Association For Change, the ElBaradei Support Campaign, and the Kefaya Movement.

The Muslim Brotherhood, who are not participating, described the postponement as wise. The Justice and Freedom Youth Movement, linked to the Muslim Brotherhood's political party, expressed its rejection of the idea of organising a million man Friday protest in response to the Islamist-dominated demonstration recently.

Accordingly, expectations are that Tahrir Square will be relatively quiet on Friday 12 August. However, it is expected that the square will witness Sufi poems and chanting. Sufis are planning to raise banners calling for a civil Egypt, the rule of law, respect for human rights, a civil constitution and democracy.

The organising committee has invited both the ruling military council and the cabinet to take part in the breakfast event. It has also said it holds them accountable for security in the square. No sit-in is planned. The organising committee has promised to leave Tahrir Square after midnight.

Events of Friday, 29 July, left several political groups and numerous Egyptians frustrated as Salafists brought their religious demands to the square, calling the rule of Islamic law rather than civil law in Egypt.

The iconic square has been locked off to gatherings and crowds of people by the army and security forces since they violently cleared a sit-in camped there 1 August.

Sufis in Egypt count for several millions (between four and 15 million, according to some estimates), attached to some 80 different orders.


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