Egyptians protest against more powers for military
CAIRO TENS of thousands of Egyptians rallied on Friday in Cairo’s Tahrir square with Islamists in the forefront to protest against what they say are attempts by the country’s military rulers to designate themselves as the guardians of a new Egypt. It was one of the largest rallied in Egypt in recent months.
Most rallies in Tahrir have been led by liberal- or left-leaning groups. But Friday’s rally was dominated by the country’s most organized political group, the Muslim Brotherhood, which has rarely come out in full force since the protests that forced President Hosni Mubarak to step down in February.
The Brotherhood had until recently avoided confrontation with the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, but now warns of escalating its protest campaign if plans to give permanent political powers to the military are not scrapped.
“The army has no role in ruling people. Its only job is to protect the country. We want civilian rule chosen through democracy,” said Hani Hegazi, a 28-year old Brotherhood member who traveled by bus to Tahrir from the Delta province of el-Beheira.
Banners read: “Down with military rule. Egypt our country is not a military camp.” Some demonstrators flew the Egyptian flag, while others including ultraconservative Salafis waved a banner declaring Islam’s holy book, the Quran, to be “our constitution.” The rally was called to protest a document floated by the government which declares the military the guardian of “constitutional legitimacy,” suggesting the armed forces could have the final word on major policies even after a new president is elected. The document, which includes guiding principles for Egypt’s new constitution, also introduces clauses that would shield it from civilian oversight.
Most of Egypt’s prodemocracy groups object to the document, calling it an attempt to perpetuate military rule past the post- Mubarak transitional period which is supposed to end with the election of a new parliament and a new president.