Egypt opposition condemns Brotherhood's planned Friday demo

Ayat Al-Tawy, Thursday 18 Apr 2013

Opposition parties criticise planned Friday rally by Islamist groups to demand 'purge' of Mubarak-era judges, accuse Muslim Brotherhood of attempting to undermine Egypt's 'respectable' judiciary

President Morsi’s supporters gathered outside the High Court to celebrate a controversial constituti
President Morsi’s supporters gathered outside the High Court to celebrate a controversial constitutional declaration that dismissed Mubarak era prosecutor-general in November 2012 (Photo by: Reuters)

Egypt's largest Islamist group, the Muslim Brotherhood, has announced plans to stage mass rallies Friday to lobby for a "purge" of the Egyptian judiciary. Secular forces plan to head to iconic Tahrir Square to press for other demands.

Several political groups announced that the Tahrir protests were geared towards voicing anger at the release without bail of deposed president Hosni Mubarak in the killing of protesters during the revolution case (Mubarak continues in detention, but under authority of a separate case), the detention of political activists, and call for the dismissal of Morsi-appointed Prosecutor-General Talaat Abdullah.

Groups that will protest in Tahrir include the National Association for Change, the Revolution Youth Union, the Youth for Justice and Freedom Movement, and the Egyptian Communist Party.

The Brotherhood, meanwhile, has listed tripartite demands for their planned rallies that will make Egypt's High Court in Downtown Cairo a main destination, as well as major squares nationwide. These include: purging state institutions of corrupt figures, recovery of Egypt's stolen funds, and holding to account those responsible for the killing of protesters.

"The Egyptian people made their great Revolution to achieve justice and to at last hold the corrupt accountable. If the judiciary cannot achieve justice, if the honorable judges fail to exact retribution on the criminals who killed our sons, assaulted our daughters and plundered our money and resources, evidently justice suffers a great imbalance," said Murad Ali, media adviser to the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) on Wednesday.

Several Islamist groups announced their intention to take part. These include the Salafist Front Al-Asala Party, Hazem Salah Abu Ismail's Al-Raya Party, Al-Watan Party, Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya's Building and Development Party, the Reform Party and the People's Party.

The Salafist El-Nour Party – Egypt's second largest Islamist group after the Muslim Brotherhood – will not partake in the rallies, said spokesman Nader Bakkar via Twitter Wednesday.

"We will not take part in the Friday demo for fear of ploys by the revolution's foes that aim to incite chaos, violence and vandalism," said Galal El-Morra, secretary-general of El-Nour Party, in a Thursday statement, asserting his party supports the Brotherhood's demands, however.

The Islamist move to protest Friday has been slammed in some civil quarters.

Egypt's Free Front for Peaceful Change called off a planned Friday protest outside the public prosecutor's office at the High Court.

In a meeting held Wednesday, the movement lambasted what it described as the Brotherhood's constant attempts to trade on the goals of the revolution and "infiltrate" the ranks of genuine revolutionaries.

The front first called for the protest to condemn the ongoing detention of political activists as well as the court order to release former president Hosni Mubarak.

The April 6 Youth Movement, a leading force behind the 2011 revolution, also displayed reluctance to participate in the anti-judiciary protests. Among cited reasons are that the protests are called for by a group the movement says jeopardises the independence of judiciary and is using it to intimidate opponents.

Nevertheless, the youth group asserted it espoused the cause of overhauling the judiciary on condition that the restructuring comes from within the body and without intervention from the executive authority.

The Taggamu Party, for its part, went so far as deeming calls for protests against judiciary "fascist." In a Thursday statement, the party said the move seeks to tighten the Brotherhood's rein on state institutions.

The liberal Free Egyptians Party, meanwhile, which is a member of the National Salvation Front (NSF) opposition umbrella group, condemned what it called "the fascist and vicious onslaught against the Egyptian judiciary."

In a Thursday statement, the NSF blasted what it described as Brotherhood attempts to spread its influence throughout all branches of the state and undermine Egypt's "respectable" judiciary.

It went on to accuse the Brotherhood, supported by President Mohamed Morsi, of attempting to take pre-emptive measures ahead of upcoming parliamentary elections, with the aim of expanding its influence over the judiciary and "putting the will of the people at risk."

In a separate move, Wafd Party also plan to stage protests Friday with a view to showing solidarity with Al-Azhar and the Egyptian Coptic Church, as well as promote unity between Egyptians following recent spates of sectarian strife.

Two protests are planned by the party: one outside Al-Azhar Sheikhdom in Cairo's Darrasa district, and the other at St Mark's Cathedral in Cairo's Abbasiya district. Both protests will be held in the afternoon under the slogan of "One Nation in One Home."

Later in the day, the party, which is one of Egypt's oldest liberal parties, is to hold a conference on the same cause. Present will be leading scholars of Al-Azhar and leading clerics of Egypt's Coptic Church.

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