Groups to unify demands in Tahrir on Friday

Representatives from secular and Islamic groups leading the ongoing Tahrir Square sit-in reached an agreement on Tuesday that could facilitate the management of the square and sideline differences during their planned "million-man" march Friday.

Islamist groups intend to protest Friday for the reinstatement of Egypt's Islamic identity. A few thousand, mostly secular groups continue to fill the square since 8 July in solidarity with the families of revolution martyrs.

With Islamists pulling out of the sit-in as they see a potential clash with the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, fears of tension in Tahrir are rising. Accordingly, members of the April 6 Youth Movement, Kefaya, the Free Islamic Coalition, Maspiro Youth Union and youth from the Muslim Brotherhood agreed to present a united front.

"It has become a must to unify the square under specific demands during Friday’s march. We don’t want any clashes between Islamists and civil forces in the square. We need to raise demands, not disputes,” said Ibrahim Salah, member of Fedaey movement, a youth group on strike in Tahrir. 

The unifying demands include stopping the military trials of civilians, accelerating the trials of the former regime officials, purging remnants of the regime from government, reforming the judiciary, and removing the public prosecutor.

“We’ve reached an agreement by which we ignore the differences and concentrate on common grounds, such as opposing the military trials for civilians,” said Moataz Reda, a representative of the Salafi youth in the square.

While having rejected the sit-in, the Salafi movement and the Muslim Brotherhood said that they will participate in the Friday’s march to highlight their view that the transitional period should be shortened and elections should come before the constitution is drafted, as per the existing arrangement.

“The movement leaders said that it’s up to the individual to decide whether to participate in the sit-in or not. However, the movement will join the sit-in officially if the military council agrees to have a document that creates an unchangeable list of constitutional principles," said Mahmoud al-Ghamarawy of the Salafi movement.

Fearing that an Islamist-dominated parliament will be installed after quick elections, secular forces have called for laying down some constitutional principles that will guide the drafting of the new constitution.

Islamic forces have rejected the idea, calling it an attempt to ignore the results of the March referendum, in which people voted in favor of parliamentary elections preceding the writing of the constitution, which would be drafted by an assembly appointed by the elected parliament.

"This Friday will not be the Friday of Shariah. We agreed to call it the Friday of the people’s will,” said Ghamarawy.

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