Saturday, February 19, 2011

Qaradawi Holds Court in Cairo

by IPT News

Hundreds of thousands of Egyptians returned to Tahrir Square Friday for a victory celebration, one week after a broad-based, peaceful revolt ended President Hosni Mubarak's 30-year-rein.

Amid a festive atmosphere that featured a marching band and chants of unity were some indications of concern.

Yusuf al-Qaradawi, an influential Muslim Brotherhood theologian, addressed the crowd. While his remarks were largely devoid of Brotherhood rhetoric, his prominent role in the event and the crowd generated "was also a reminder that political Islam is likely to play a larger role in Egypt than it has for decades," the Christian Science Monitor reports.

He called for freedom for thousands of political prisoners in Egyptian jails and the end of the country's blockade against the Hamas government in Gaza.

Qaradawi made a point of saying he was speaking to all Egyptians, including Coptic Christians. "The revolution," he said, "is not over" and he warned "infiltrators" who may try to sabotage Egyptian unity and hijack the revolution.

Ironically, reports indicate that some of that happened on the very stage from which Qaradawi spoke. Wael Ghonim, the young Google executive credited with helping ignite the popular uprising, was blocked from getting on stage by Qaradawi's guards. According to a news report, "Ghonim left the square with his face hidden by an Egyptian flag."

As the IPT reported Thursday, there are increasing signs that the Muslim Brotherhood, which deliberately maintained a low profile during the three-week street protests, is flexing its muscles as Egypt tries to build a new government. It is well represented on a committee charged with recommending changes the country's constitution and has announced plans to form a political party to run for parliamentary seats.

Despite being banned under Mubarak, 88 Brotherhood-affiliated people were elected to the parliament in 2005. The body has 444 members.

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