Tahrir Square sees Islamist-dominated mass protest

Ahram Online, Zeinab El Gundy, Friday 13 Apr 2012

Tens of thousands take to Cairo's main intersection in a demonstration targeting presidential hopefuls with links to the Mubarak regime

Tens of Thousands flock to Tahrir Square to protest ex-Mubarak regime presidential candidates (Photo: Mai Shaheen)

Tens of thousands of mainly Islamist protesters have filled Cairo's Tahrir Square for Friday prayers in a mass demonstration called by the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafist Front under the slogan, "the only demand - together against the remnants of the former regime".  

Two major stages have been set up, one by members of the Brotherhood, the other by supporters of presidential hopeful Hazem Salah Abu-Ismail. 
The latter's campaign received a boost on Thursday when he obtained an official document showing his late mother held only Egyptian citizenship, making him still elegible to run for the country's top office.
Brotherhood protesters are wearing caps and shirts proclaiming their allegiance, according to an Ahram Online reporter at the scene. Many have apparently travelled to Cairo from other governorates on buses hired by the powerful Islamic group. 
The mass rally has completely blocked the entry of traffic to the square with volunteers forming checkpoints on adjoining streets to vet pedestrians. Street vendors are also plying their trade, selling cold beverages beneath the blistering sun.
Supporters of Sheikh Omar Abdul Rahman, jailed in the US for his involvement in the 1993 World Trade Center attack, are also on the square, continuing their long-standing protest demanding he be freed and returned to Egypt.
Other demonstrators are turning their ire of presidential hopefuls Omar Suleiman and Ahmed Shafik, who served as vice-president and prime minister, respectively, under Mubarak's rule.
"Suleiman, you belong in prison" and "Israel is safe under Omar Suleiman" are among the slogans being chanted. Former Arab League Secretary General, Amr Moussa, is also being lambasted for his term as foreign minister during the Mubarak era.
The common chant of "Down, down with the military rule" is also resounding on Tahrir, the epicentre of 2011's uprising.
Some banners and placards declare "no to the remnants [of the old regime]", while others ask "where is the People's Assembly?" -- a reflection of popular anger against an Islamist-dominated parliament that critics say has proven toothless.
At the time of writing, more protesters are still joining the crowd on Tahrir.
Cleric Mazhar Shaheen is set to give the pre-prayers sermon. Salafist presidential hopeful Safwat Hegazy is sharing the stage.
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