11/22/2011, 00.00
EGYPT
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Christians and Muslims in Tahrir Square want the military to quit

Local sources say 400,000 people are in the square. The Muslim Brotherhood and Salafis are ejected from the rally. Police use tear gas against protesters. Hundreds are injured in clashes as protests touch Alexandria, Suez and Damietta.
Cairo (AsiaNews) – Tahrir Square is back in the hands of the young revolutionaries of 25 January. More than 400,000 are currently assembled in the site that has become the symbol of the Arab Spring, united in the slogan “Christians and Muslim, one single hand”, demanding the end of military control.

The Muslim Brotherhood and other radical Islamic groups are not present. Leaders of the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Equality party and the presidential candidate for the Salafi movement were forcibly removed from yesterday’s rally. They are accused of using popular dissatisfaction in their pursuit of power.

Protests are also underway in Alexandria, Suez and Damietta since they broke out last Saturday.

So far, about 40 people have died and about a thousand have been injured in the confrontation.

Fr Rafic Greiche, spokesman of the Catholic Church, said that protesters have clashed with police near the Interior Ministry building, which is surrounded by hundreds of agents.

Many demonstrators have been made sick by tear gas used by police. Others have cuts and gashes and complain about the presence of hooligans in police ranks.

For the clergyman, this demonstration represents a return to the original ideals of the revolution that unfolded back in January in Tahrir Square and led to the downfall of the Mubarak regime.

“People are tired of the army but also of Muslim Brotherhood, which continues to interfere in the country’s political life in order to impose its religious ideology. Young people refuse extremist ideas and have streamed into the square to say that there is but one Egyptian people and that it includes Muslims and Christians”.

Catholics are also involved in the protest, Fr Greiche said. “They are handing out food, water and drugs near the square.”

For the priest, the military “has made too many mistakes and failed to keep too many promises. They have not been able to run the country, but they have fanned the flames of conflict between Copts and Muslims.”

“They have relied too much on the use of force to crush demonstrations whilst failing to ensure security. Criminals and crooks released from prison after Mubarak’s fall have invaded the streets.”

As Egyptians wait for General Tantawi, head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, to address the nation, Egyptian newspapers are reporting that the military is preparing to replace the current government with one led by Mohamed el Baradei, head of a liberal movement and a presidential candidate.

The new government is expected to include representatives of the Muslim Brotherhood, Salafis and leftwing parties, and should remain in power until after the announcement of the results in next Monday’s election. (S.C.)
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