Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood to join Friday protest

Reuters News
Posted: Jul 06, 2011 2:59 PM
Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood to join Friday protest

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt's best-organised political group, the Muslim Brotherhood, said Wednesday it would join mass rallies Friday aimed at pushing for faster reforms and swift punishment for allies of ousted President Hosni Mubarak.

Activists complain that recent events, including the use of force by police against demonstrators, court rulings that cleared three ministers in Mubarak's administration of graft as well as the release of some police officers accused of killing protesters, went against reforms.

The Brotherhood participation is likely to bolster what is billed as a million-person protest, called for by secular activists unhappy with the way the ruling military council has been running the country.

Several top activists have criticized the Brotherhood for taking a back seat during the January 25 revolution that ousted Mubarak and labeling protesters who tried to organize further sit-ins in Cairo's Tahrir Square in March and April as "thugs."

The Brotherhood initially said it intended to boycott the rallies when the protest's goal was to pressure the military council to delay parliamentary elections scheduled for September.

"Then there were new developments on the subject that necessitated putting it for debate once more," the Brotherhood said in a statement posted on its website.

It cited a change in the objectives of the protest organizers in which they dropped their demand to delay the elections, the grievances raised by families of Egyptians killed in the revolution and the foot-dragging in trying Mubarak supporters.

In a referendum in March, 77 percent of voters said they backed constitutional amendments that would allow the country's military rulers to hold parliamentary elections in September.

Analysts have said a tight timetable for the elections gives new parties little time to prepare and build up support against the Islamist group that has a grass-roots network, financial muscle and broad appeal in a country with conservative Muslim values.

Foreign investors say they have been holding back from returning to Egypt because of the fragile security situation and political instability in the country before planned elections to return the country to civilian rule in September.

(Reporting by Sarah Mikhail; Editing by Sami Aboudi and Peter Cooney)