Egypt Islamists call for rally to 'renounce violence' on 21 June

Ahram Online, Wednesday 12 Jun 2013

Islamist groups, including the FJP, accuse 5 businessmen with links to Mubarak regime of planning violence at opposition rallies

A TV snapshot of the conference

Egyptian Islamist groups, including the centrist Wasat Party and the ultra-conservative Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya, have said they will hold a "million-man anti-violence rally” on 21 June.

There has been widespread speculation recently that Islamists would hold counter-protests on 30 June, when opposition groups are planning mass anti-government rallies.

Speaking at a press conference held at the headquarters of Al-Gamaa's Building and Development Party on Wednesday, Abul Ela Madi, head of the Wasat Party, called on the opposition to renounce violence.

The ‘Rebel’ (‘Tamarod’) campaign, a signature drive launched in May with the intention of "withdrawing confidence" from President Mohamed Morsi by collecting 15 million citizens' endorsements, has called for mass protests on 30 June to demand Morsi's ouster.

Late in May, the campaign announced it had collected seven million endorsements.      

At Wednesday's conference, Mohamed El-Beltagi, vice-president of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) from which Morsi hails, reiterated the stance of his group that the opposition should take part in the upcoming parliamentary elections.

"Why don't they go to the ballot boxes and avoid possible violence if they can mobilise as many people as they say?" he commented.

Most Egyptian opposition parties and groups have endorsed the planned protests, including main opposition group the National Salvation Front, which is led by Mohamed ElBaradei, Hamdeen Sabbahi and Amr Moussa.

Essam Sultan, a leading member of the Wasat Party which consists of Brotherhood defectors, stressed that the signatures gathered by the Rebel campaign are legally meaningless.

'Anticipated violence by ex-regime figures'

Nasser Abdel-Salam, head of the Building and Development Party, reiterated that former regime figures are looking to wreak havoc, saying "chaos is planned to start on 14 June."

"There are plans to torch the Islamist parties [headquarters] by thugs, especially [that of] the FJP. There is also information about using governmental weapons in order to frame the police in killing civilians," he added.

A few days earlier, Assem Abdel-Maged, a leading member of Al-Gamaa, asserted that the Rebel campaign planned to kill its own protesters on 30 June rallies in hopes of turning public opinion against Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, citing "corrupt businessmen."

The Islamist forces that took part in the conference signed a joint statement accusing five major businessmen from the Mubarak-era of planning mayhem: Abdel-Rehim El-Goul, Ali Shabaan, Hamdi El-Tahan, Mohamed Farid and Yassin Mansour.

The statement was released after "the forces of the political Islam observed the phenomena of the blocking of roads and the attacking of governmental institutions such as the presidential palace, the Shura Council, the People's Assembly and the interior ministry."

"We have also observed money from Gulf countries…to finance a number of channels owned by the remnants of the former regime, such the channel of [businessman] Mohamed El-Amin and Al-Watan newspaper [also owned by El-Amin]."

Islamists were repressed under the 30-year rule of Hosni Mubarak, which ended in 2011 following an 18-day uprising.

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