Islamist, secular forces join mass protest in Cairo
Tens of thousands packed Cairo’s Tahrir Square on Friday in a joint protest by Islamist and secular groups. The rally was supposed to be a show of unity in defence of anti-Mubarak revolution but has been dominated chants for an Islamic state.
Thousands had already made their way to the square overnight, although the rally was not due to start until after noon Muslim prayers.
Speakers called for unity and partnership but crowds chanted demands for Egypt to “implement God’s law”.
The demonstration was initially organised by the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamic groups, sparking fears of tension with secular groups who have been camping in the square since 8 July. But after two days of meetings the two sides agreed a joint protest.
They fear that the military is derailing the revolution which ousted former president Hosni Mubarak and is using Mubarak-style tactics to stifle dissent.
Key demands of the protesters are an end to military trials of civilians, swift trials for former regime members accused of killing protesters during the uprising and redistribution of wealth.
Last week Islamists held their own demonstration and accused the Tahrir protesters of going against what they called Egypt’s “Islamic identity” on 3 August.
They oppose efforts to draw up the outline of a new constitution before elections scheduled for the autumn.
Secular groups support the move because they fear that the Brotherhood will have a large presence in the resulting parliament.
The rally came a day after Egypt's justice ministry said Mubarak, along with his two sons and eight other associates, will be tried at a Cairo convention centre.
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