02/09/2011, 00.00
EGYPT
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Demonstrations without leadership favour Muslim extremists

Arabic language pamphlets issued by the Iranian government are being handed out. They hail the Islamic revolution. Recently released from prison, Muslim fundamentalists are now becoming more visible in the streets of Cairo. “The situation is unclear; we are waiting day by day to see how it will end,” a source tells AsiaNews.

Cairo (AsiaNews) – “In the absence of a leader who can talk to those in power, protesters in the street are too weak. This has helped Muslim fundamentalists find their way into talks with the government,” a source anonymous for security reasons told AsiaNews. “Foreign hands are pulling the strings in Egypt,” he said.

“You can see more and more fundamentalists in the streets. Many have in fact been recently released from prison,” the source said. At the same time, the Arabic translation of a recent speech by Ayatollah Khamenei praising the Egyptians for their courage has found its way in pamphlets handed out in the streets. In it, Iran’s spiritual leader urges Egyptians to carry out an Islamic revolution.

Site, a US-based intelligence monitoring service, reported that al-Qaeda released a message to the Egyptian people, calling for a jihad against Mubarak’s pro-Western regime. It also warned them against “pagan idols” like democracy and Westernisation.

Despite the danger of fundamentalism, young Christians and Muslims, continue to demonstrate. Yesterday, hundreds of thousands of people crowded Tahrir Square for what was perhaps the largest protest since the start of the uprising. At present, tens of thousands of young people continue to occupy the square, waiting for the big demonstration on Friday. “Young people want the president to go before they can accept the government’s proposals,” the source said.

To appease the crowds, Vice President Omar Suleiman accepted to meet with opposition delegations. He pledged changes to the constitution and free elections very soon. He did not say the president would resign, for that would bring the country to the brink of chaos. Instead, Suleiman stressed that change can only come through dialogue. The alternative would be a military coup.

The crisis could have a positive outcome for Christians. Recently, Christian representatives have used the debate over constitutional change to demand greater protection. They wrote to the vice president calling for the removal of certain articles that harm the rights of Christians. So far, no answer has been come.

Still, pressures from Muslim fundamentalists could sink the demand for improved protection. “The situation is unclear; we are waiting day by day to see how it will end,” the source said.

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