Muslim Brotherhood sure of election victory in Egypt as Tahrir unrest lingers


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The army and the interim government continue to prepare for Monday’s first round of parliamentary elections, which threaten to split the opposition.


A protester was killed yesterday when he was run over by a police vehicle during mass demonstrations in Tahrir Square that called for Egypt’s military leaders to step down from power.

But, in general, order was maintained in the Egyptian capital over the weekend, despite the gathering of tens of thousands of demonstrators.

Meanwhile, the army and the interim government continued to prepare for Monday’s first round of parliamentary elections. The elections threaten to split the opposition: While some members of the protest movement are calling for this week’s elections to be deferred until power is transferred to civilian hands, and several parties have announced that they would boycott the balloting, the Muslim Brotherhood is determined to win a large number of seats in parliament. In an effort to ensure orderly elections, the Islamic group has said it does not support the current wave of protests.

But a large number of Muslim Brotherhood members turned up in a show of support for the demonstrators nonetheless, and some of the movement’s members announced they were breaking with the organization. One female university student declared that, although she was an Islamist, the Muslim Brotherhood had shown it was only out for its own interests and she would not vote for the group.

Convinced of their upcoming success in the vote, some Muslim Brotherhood supporters had concerns beyond Egypt’s borders – over Israel’s intentions to dismantle the temporary Mughrabi bridge leading to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. At Al-Azhar University, a stronghold of the movement, giant posters called for the defense of the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the mount, and Palestinian flags mingled with Egyptian ones. Guests of honor at prayers at the university were members of a Hamas delegation that was in Cairo for talks with Palestinian Authority officials.

One Muslim Brotherhood activist, Bayuma Tayara, said his group did not need to campaign at this point. The movement has been doing grassroots work for years, he said, and every Egyptian knows who the Muslim Brotherhood is. He denied that the group was busying itself with the Palestinian issue to distract attention from ongoing demonstrations in Cairo and said the group was sure of victory.

Sermon after sermon before and after the prayers at the university accused Israel of harming Muslim holy places and claimed that the Jews were defiling Palestine. One speaker said that all of Palestine would be liberated via Cairo’s Tahrir Square – where demonstrations earlier this year brought down President Hosni Mubarak’s regime.

Among the crowd was Abed Khaled, an accountant, who said the Jews would be fought until the fighters’ last drop of blood. Acknowledging that such a step was not currently feasible, he said that after an election victory the army would be prepared for war against Israel.

For his part, however, another Muslim Brotherhood activist said that if Israel respects Palestinian rights, the peace treaty with Israel could be maintained, saying that he and his colleagues wanted to live in peace with Israel.




Muslim Brotherhood rally vows to ‘kill all Jews’

A Muslim Brotherhood rally in Cairo on Friday at the Sunni world’s most prestigious center of learning turned into a call for genocide, with protesters pledging to “one day kill all Jews.”

Eldad Beck, Ynet’s Arab affairs correspondent, reported from Cairo that some 5,000 people attended the rally at al-Azhar Mosque, convened to coincide with the anniversary of the approval of the 1947 UN Partition Plan for Palestine.

The event, organizers said, was aimed at rallying Egyptians behind the “battle against Jerusalem’s Judaization.”

Speakers at the demonstration condemned “Zionist occupiers” and “treacherous Jews,” and organizers distributed maps of the Old City highlighting areas where “Zionists are aiming to change Jerusalem’s Muslim character.”

Muhammad Ahmed el- Tayeb, the imam of al-Azhar Mosque, told the crowd: “Al- Aksa Mosque is currently under an offensive by the Jews… We shall not allow the Zionists to Judaize al-Quds [Jerusalem]. We are telling Israel and Europe that we shall not allow even one stone to be moved there.”

Protesters chanted, “Tel Aviv, Tel Aviv: Judgment Day has come,” and passages from the Koran vowing that “one day we shall kill all the Jews.”

Al-Azhar Mosque is part of al-Azhar University, a millennium- old compound in central Cairo that is the world’s leading center of Arabic literature and Sunni jurisprudence.

Beck quoted an elementary school teacher outside the mosque telling him, “All Egyptian Muslims are willing to embark on jihad for the sake of Palestine.”

“Why is the US losing in Afghanistan?” he asked.

“Because the other side is willing and wants to die. We have a different mentality than that of the Americans and Jews.”

Meanwhile, late last week, Egypt’s Youm7 newsweekly reported that the Brotherhood’s spiritual leader, Yusuf al-Qaradawi, had returned to Cairo for the first time since his dramatic return in February from a half-century in exile.

The immensely popular television preacher arrived at Cairo Airport on Wednesday “to follow the incidents in Tahrir Square,” the center of anti-government protests.

Qaradawi hosts the weekly program Shari’a and Life on Al Jazeera. Exiled from Egypt in 1961, he has since resided in the Persian Gulf emirate of Qatar.

Following February’s ouster of President Hosni Mubarak, Qaradawi made a triumphant return to Tahrir, where he led at least 200,000 Egyptians in mass prayer.

The 85-year-old is hailed by supporters as an engaging and telegenic preacher, and vilified by critics for his often venomous attacks on Americans, Shi’ites and Jews.

Qaradawi has been described as the spiritual leader of Hamas, and has justified suicide bombings against Israeli civilians and against US soldiers serving in Iraq.

Marc Ginsberg – the former US ambassador to Morocco and a top Middle East adviser during Jimmy Carter’s presidency – wrote an op-ed last week highlighting what he sees as an “unholy alliance” between the Muslim Brotherhood and Egypt’s ruling military council.

“The Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) met secretly with representatives of the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist-oriented political movements last April to establish local political ‘action committee’ bank accounts,” he wrote on the Huffington Post website, citing a “reliable European military intelligence source.”

The payouts in question could amount to millions of dollars, Ginsberg wrote.

“The SCAF’s surreptitious political maneuvering favoring Islamists over more secular political movements is based on one simple equation,” he wrote. “The military is determined to prevent secularists from gaining a parliamentary majority which would likely impair its insatiable appetite for controlling Egypt’s national budget and its own extensive business operations.

“It is determined to prevent a civilian government from interfering with its cherished prerogatives.

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