Tahrir Imam holds Morsi accountable for 'betraying revolution'

Ahram Online, Friday 8 Feb 2013

Mazhar Shaheen gave the Friday sermon at Omar Makram mosque on the edge of Tahrir Square, condemning calls for violence against opposition figures

Omar Makram imam, Sheikh Mazhar Shaheen, photo taken May 2011 (Photo: Mai Shaheen)

Sheikh Mazhar Shaheen, preacher at the Omar Makram mosque in Tahrir Square, called on opposition forces and activists to preserve the revolution and continue their determination to achieve its goals in his Friday sermon at the mosque.

"The people responsible for the deaths of young revolutionaries today are the same people who opposed the exit of the ruling regime during the January 25 revolution,” he said.

Shaheen, who has been dubbed the “Tahrir preacher”, directed his words at the ruling Islamist regime, headed by President Mohamed Morsi, who hails from the Muslim Brotherhood.

Preaching the Friday sermon ahead of protests set to take place in Tahrir as well as at locations outside Cairo to mark the “Friday of human dignity,” Shaheen said that it was regrettable that opposing forces call for the death of their opponents.

“It is unbelievable that when a person opposes the ruling regime, he is threatened with death.”

Shaheen’s comments come after a highly controversial fatwa made last week by Al-Azhar University professor and host of a religious television show on the ultraconservative TV channel El-Hafez, Mahmoud Shaaban.

Shaaban stated that the opposition should be punished by death for attempting to bring down a leader elected by the public, directly naming National Salvation Front (NSF) heads Hamdeen Sabbahi and Mohamed ElBaradei.

“Islam is innocent of such questionable examples,” said Shaheen.

Directing a statement at Morsi, Shaheen said: "We will not allow for the martyrs’ blood to go in vain; these martyrs are the reason why you [Morsi] are now in power...You have to bow down to the demands of the public.”

Shaheen further added that the Al-Azhar institution had to remain independent and should not be used to stand in support of one political faction over another.

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