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Egypt

Egypt's Islamists and left unite in massive military power protest

Reuters/Mohamed Abd El-Ghany

Tens of thousands of Egyptians protested in Cairo’s Tahrir Square on Friday in an attempt to stop the military extending its powers and push the army out of power. Dubbed a "million-man rally", the protest sees Islamists and leftists united in accusing the military of usurping this year's revolution.

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The protest, led by the Muslim Brotherhood but backed by the secular left, wants the scrapping of a government document proposing supra-constitutional principles, one of whose proposals would keep the military budget secret.

Dossier: Revolution in Egypt

By early afternoon the demonstrators’ numbers had reached hundred of thousands, according to a live blog on the Al Ahram newspaper’s website.

Demonstrations were reported in other cities, including Suez and Aswan.

The overnment draft, proposed by Deputy Prime Minister Ali Silmi, includes clauses that remove the military's budget from parliamentary oversight and allowed the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), which took power when Hosni Mubarak was ousted 10 months ago, a final say on military-related matters.

The protesters also want the military to transfer power to a civilian government as soon as possible.

Delivering the Muslim prayer sermon, imam Mazhar Shahin urged protesters to keep defending the goals of the revolution.

"Perhaps those who rule us think we will forget our cause with the passage of time. They are deluded and mistaken," he warned the SCAF, which took power when Mubarak was ousted.

"We reject the imposition of dictates on the people, we reject Silmi's document. No voice can drown out the voice of the people," Shahin told the crowd.

After earlier protests, the government revised the draft, but Islamists, who expect to win a majority in forthcoming elections, see any such charter as an attempt to stop parliament deciding the new constitution.

"Those who fear Islamist movements in Egypt, I tell them don't be scared of Islam in Egypt," Shahin said. "Egypt is Islamic, like it or not ... We want a civic democratic state with an Islamic vision that allows people to practise their rights and democracy.”

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