Saturday, May 28, 2011

At a Protest In Cairo, One Group Is Missing

CAIRO — Tens of thousands of mostly liberal protesters again filled Tahrir Square on Friday to press for an assortment of demands in a demonstration billed as "The Revolution Part II, " but perhaps most notable for the absence of the Muslim Brotherhood.

The protesters called on the military council now ruling Egypt to end the practice of sending civilians to military trials, to expedite legal action against former President Hosni Mubarak and his associates, and to start governing with some civilian presidential council.

But the rally may have been most significant as a display of the liberal factions' strength in Egyptian politics. It was the first time since the Jan. 25 day of protests that kicked off the revolution that the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's largest and best-organized political force, did not support a major street protest.

In the emerging battle lines of post-revolutionary Egyptian politics, many liberal activists and observers abroad say they fear that the Brotherhood's organizational strength will give it an edge in the elections for Parliament this fall, which could, in turn, enable Islamists to put their stamp on Egypt's Constitution when the new Parliament sets out a process for revising it. "Constitution First," declared a banner at the center of the square on Friday, expressing the liberal demand for the establishment of rules protecting individual freedoms and minority rights before elections begin.


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