Calls for Friday rally against political violence divide Egypt's Islamists
Ayat Al-Tawy, Thursday 14 Feb 2013
Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya calls for Friday demo – 'Together against violence' – at which Brotherhood says it will have 'symbolic presence'; Secular groups, meanwhile, call for yet more anti-Morsi rallies, marches

Amid calls by Egypt’s Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya and its political wing, the Construction and Development Party, for Friday mass rallies condemning political violence, Islamist parties appear at odds as to whether or not to participate.

The Muslim Brotherhood, for its part, Egypt’s largest Islamist movement, has declared that it would take part in Friday's ‘Together against violence’ demonstration with a "symbolic presence."

"Egyptians have always been builders of civilisation, culture and values, while the ongoing violence, sabotage and subversion – carried out under flimsy political cover and with the gleeful incitement of the media – are not even remotely related to Egyptian patriotism,” the group asserted in a Wednesday statement. “Therefore, the Muslim Brotherhood has decided to participate in this Friday’s events with only a symbolic presence."

However, a number of other Islamist parties and groups – including the Salafist Nour Party, the Salafist Watan Party and the moderate-Islamist Wasat Party – voiced reluctance to take part in Friday's planned rally, fearing “further eruptions of [political] violence.”

Earlier this month, the Brotherhood refrained from taking part in nationwide protests dubbed the ‘Friday of deliverance,’ saying that it "will not be dragged into any confrontations or provocations."

Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya had called for mass protests last Friday, but had to call off the event after other Islamist parties rejected the call. The group therefore postponed the planned demonstrations by one week so as to give itself more time to mobilise the public in advance of the event.

On Monday, the group issued calls for a peaceful million-man rally on Friday, 15 February outside Cairo University in the capital’s sprawling Giza district to denounce acts of violence and sabotage.

According to Khaled Sherif, spokesman for the group’s Constructional and Development Party, several mass marches are slated to converge outside the university on Friday. Meeting points for the planned marches include the Rahma Mosque in Haram, the Istiqama Mosque in Giza, the Salah El-Din Mosque in Manial and the Asad Ibn Al-Forat Mosque in Dokki.

Sherif added that the party was mobilising the public in Cairo and other governorates for Friday's planned protest. He said that security committees would be stationed at Cairo University and in surrounding streets in order to ensure protesters’ safety.

“Friday's protests will adopt the slogans of ‘Together against violence that leads to turmoil,’ which is exercised by elements backed by the [opposition] National Salvation Front (NSF); ‘Together against the weakness of the government,’ which could lead to the collapse of the state; and ‘Together against poverty,’ which affects the lives of all Egyptians," said Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya leader Essam Derbala.

Derbala went on to say, in reference to the NSF, that "no popular revolution can be created through television talk shows. The only way to tackle the country's current malaise is through dialogue without preconditions."

Several non-Islamist protest groups, meanwhile, are calling for yet another round of demonstrations against President Mohamed Morsi outside the presidential palace in Cairo.

“We will push forward with protests until the demands of the revolution are fulfilled,” read a Thursday statement issued by opposition forces. “We will chase the president, who is totally isolated from the legitimacy of the people, from one palace to another; we will never back down despite mounting police brutality and the president’s obstinacy.”

Political parties and groups to have endorsed the planned anti-Morsi rallies include the Socialist Popular Alliance, the Youth for Justice and Freedom Movement, the Constitution Party, the Popular Movement for the Independence of Al-Azhar, the Karama Party, the Free Front for Peaceful Change, the Maspero Youth Union, the Arab Revolution Youth Movement, the Revolutionary Socialists, the Egyptian Popular Current, the Egypt Freedom Party, the National Association for Change and the Kefaya movement.