Egypt revolution unfinished, Qaradawi tells Tahrir masses
Leading Islamic theologian Yusuf al-Qaradawi returned from Qatar to rally hundreds of thousands at Tahrir Square today in his first public speech since 1981.
(Page 2 of 2)
Qaradawi called for the immediate release of the thousands of political prisoners that remain in Egypt’s jails, an end to the feared state security services, the dissolution of the cabinet of Mubarak loyalists who have been retained by the country’s military junta, and an end to the economic blockade of the Gaza Strip.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
After his speech, he read from the Quran, his voice cracking as he reached a verse on the fate of tyrants. Then the thousands settled into prayer amid a pin-drop silence before breaking out into shouts of “no to Hosni, no to his regime, no to his supporters.”
Protest movement still strong enough to pressure military
The throngs at Tahrir Square today for what’s been billed as a celebration of the revolution and a day of mourning for the hundreds killed in protests, demonstrated that Egypt’s protest movement still holds the power to generate mass demonstrations and pressure the military.
In recent days there have been emerging splits among the activists and protesters who drove Mubarak from power one week ago. Discussions with the broad coalition of activists who helped kick-start the uprising have revealed plans for at least five political parties with different purposes and ideological visions. The Muslim Brotherhood, too, is likely to start at least one party of its own.
There have been some signs of the military council now in charge of Egypt, led by Defense Minister Mohamed Tantawi, reaching out to the Brotherhood. The head of a constitutional reform committee that Mr. Tantawi appointed two days ago is ideologically simpatico with the Brothers.
But the senior military leadership is also deeply suspicious of political Islam. In a possible sign of their ambivalence about the role the Brothers might play in coming days, state television did not carry Qaradawi’s speech and the stirring events at Tahrir Square.
Scope of constitutional reform in doubt
And whether democratic demands are going to be met remains an open question. The constitutional reform committee answers to the generals, and was appointed with no obvious input from the groups that pushed Mubarak from power.
Wael Nawara, a spokesman for the Ghad Party – a small opposition group that was involved in the democracy protests – says he’s worried that constitutional changes are being drawn up without any real input from Egyptian civil society and opposition politicians.
“There were people who worked against all odds, carrying the flag of change, for seven years or so,” Mr. Nawara says. “Trying to bypass those groups and starting to talk to individuals, however well intentioned, would be a huge mistake.”
Qaradawi has often been a controversial figure in the West – he was banned from traveling to the US because of his support for attacks on US troops in Iraq, for instance – but is very much in the Sunni Islamic mainstream.
When former Monitor reporter Jill Carroll was kidnapped in Iraq in 2006, Qaradawi issued a religious ruling reiterating his position that the kidnapping and murder of civilians is sinful and called for her immediate release.
Sarah Lynch contributed reporting from Cairo.