07/29/2011, 00.00
EGYPT
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Tens of thousands of people in Tahrir Square to protect Egypt’s Arab and Islamic identity

Organised by Muslim parties, the peaceful protests included secular groups and Copts. Similar demonstrations are held in Alexandria and Suez. The power of the Muslim Brotherhood is growing; the group could use Ramadan for electoral purposes.
Cairo (AsiaNews) – Tens of thousands of protesters gathered today in Egypt’s main cities of Cairo, Alexandria and Suez to call on the army to press ahead with economic reforms and speed up the trials of Hosni Mubarak and other leaders of the former regime. They also called for the preservation of the country’s “Arab and Islamic identity.” Although organised by Islamic parties, including the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafis, the rally saw the participation of Copts and members of the secular movements that took part in the Jasmine Revolution.

Fr Rafik Greiche, spokesman of the Egyptian Catholic Church, told AsiaNews that the protests were peaceful without any clashes. Without the strong presence of secular groups, such a rally could have appeared very one-sided. However, “amidst Egyptian flags with banners hailing the Qur‘an, there were thousands of young people shouting slogans in favour of secularism and the country’s unity.

According to the clergyman, it is hard to know what will follow. In his view, the risk is great that radical Muslim groups may take over and kill the country’s dream for religious freedom and the separation of state and religion.

In fact, it is likely that the Muslim Brotherhood will take advantage of Muslims’ obligation to share during Ramadan to press their agenda among poor and uneducated voters ahead of next November elections.
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