Muslim Brotherhood on fast track to take over Egypt

Editor’s Note – The Muslim Brotherhood is fast tracking the move to take over Egypt. The date of the elections is not confirmed and the Coptic Christians remain threatened and panicked due to corruption in all sectors. Broken foreign policy began with our very own State Department and is now leading to a radical Islamic State in Egypt, which was held at bay for years by the fall from grace of Hosni Mubarak.

Deal to Hasten Transition in Egypt Is Jeered at Protests

NY Times

By DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK

CAIRO — Egypt careened through another day of crisis with no end in sight as hundreds of thousands of people occupying Tahrir Square jeered at a deal struck on Tuesday by the Muslim Brotherhood and the military that would speed up the transition to civilian rule on a timetable favoring the Islamist movement.

The agreement, which centered on a presidential election by late June, appeared unlikely to extinguish the resurgent protest movement — the largest since the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak nine months ago. The crowd roared its disapproval when the deal was announced at 8 p.m., fighting spiked on the avenue leading to the Interior Ministry, and the number of protesters continued to swell.

Unlikely to satisfy the public demands for the military to leave power, the deal may have driven a new wedge into the opposition, reopening a divide between the seething public and the political elite, between liberals and Islamists and, as events unfolded, among the Islamists themselves.

“We refuse it, and the square has refused it already,” said Islam Lotfy, a former leader of the youth wing of the Muslim Brotherhood who was expelled from the organization with a group of others for starting a centrist political party. “They did not offer anything new. They are just bargaining with the people.”

Just four days ago, the Muslim Brotherhood kicked off a wave of protests against the military’s increasingly explicit attempts to decree for itself special powers and protections under the future constitution. But when a heavyhanded crackdown on demonstrators ignited a far broader and more violent backlash against the military’s power grab, Brotherhood leaders sent mixed signals about whether to join the swelling protests. And while other political groups called for a huge demonstration on Tuesday, the Brotherhood ordered its members to stay away for fear of jeopardizing elections as the violence hit a peak.

The Health Ministry said 31 people died in four days of unrest, and more than 600 were injured on Tuesday alone.

For the military and the Brotherhood, the deal was the closest embrace yet in the off-again-on-again partnership since the revolution between the country’s two most powerful institutions — reprising roles played out under Mr. Mubarak, who outlawed, but tolerated, the Muslim Brotherhood during his three decades in power.

For Egyptian liberals, the open deal between the two most powerful and organized forces in the nation raised fears of being caught between groups at odds with their goals: a military reluctant to submit to democratic oversight, and an Islamist movement with a potentially narrow view of individual freedoms.

“Pessimists fear the Saudi scenario,” Shady el-Ghazaly Harb, a liberal activist, said recently, referring to the possibility of imposing both strict Islamic moral codes and a harshly undemocratic government.

The agreement was worked out in a meeting held by Gen. Sami Enan, a top leader of the military council, who invited all of the major political parties and their leaders. Most liberal parties and leaders, including the presidential contender Mohamed ElBaradei, declined to attend, as did the moderate former Brotherhood leader Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, another presidential contender. All said that negotiating with the generals would confer legitimacy on their authority and that the solution to the crisis should come from the protesters in the street.

Of the roughly 10 parties and leaders that met with General Enan, the Brotherhood was easily the most influential. For the Brotherhood, the accord promises to achieve a critical goal, by beginning the first parliamentary elections in the post-Mubarak era on Monday, as scheduled; the Brotherhood’s newly formed Freedom and Justice Party is poised to reap big gains from its advantages in outreach and organizing. And with those gains in the new parliament, the Brotherhood would be able to help shape the writing of a constitution.

For the military, the deal would allow it to retain unfettered authority at least until late June. Many liberals and Islamists had grown concerned in recent months about the military’s increasingly overt effort to preserve a decisive role for itself in politics far into the future.

Tahrir Square Erupts Again – Christian Church Attacks

Editor’s Note – Sticks, rocks, and fire bombs are flying again in Cairo. It is the worst weekend since Mubarak relinquished power. Tahrir Square is under siege again, and this time the Muslims and military are taking on the Christians. A group of peaceful Christians gathered in front of a TV station in a calm rally over the constant attack and burning of their churches. Thugs and the military intervened and then large fires erupted and at least 24 died, with hundreds more were injured. The Egyptian cabinet is convening a meeting on Monday to determine a resolution, in the meantime, the United Nations Security Council will read about it in the newspaper and a ‘shrug of the shoulders’ will be the only response.

Times Union

Christians protecting Muslims despite rally over attacks on Christians

CAIRO (AP) — Flames lit up downtown Cairo, where massive clashes raged Sunday, drawing Christians angry over a recent church attack, Muslims and Egyptian security forces. At least 24 people were killed and more than 200 injured in the worst sectarian violence since the uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarakin February.

The rioting lasted late into the night, bringing out a deployment of more than 1,000 security forces and armored vehicles to defend the state television building along the Nile, where the trouble began. The military clamped a curfew on the area until 7 a.m.

The clashes spread to nearby Tahrir Square, drawing thousands of people to the vast plaza that served as the epicenter of the protests that ousted Mubarak. On Sunday night, they battled each other with rocks and firebombs, some tearing up pavement for ammunition and others collecting stones in boxes.

At one point, an armored security van sped into the crowd, striking a half-dozen protesters and throwing some into the air. Protesters retaliated by setting fire to military vehicles, a bus and private cars, sending flames rising into the night sky.

After midnight, mobs roamed downtown streets, attacking cars they suspected had Christian passengers. In many areas, there was no visible police or army presence to confront or stop them.

Christians, who make up about 10 percent of Egypt’s 80 million people, blame the country’s ruling military council for being too lenient on those behind a spate of anti-Christian attacks since Mubarak’s ouster. As Egypt undergoes a chaotic power transition and security vacuum in the wake of the uprising, the Coptic Christian minority is particularly worried about the show of force by ultraconservative Islamists.

Prime Minister Essam Sharaf, addressing the nation in a televised speech, said the violence threatened to throw Egypt’s post-Mubarak transition off course.

“These events have taken us back several steps,” he said. “Instead of moving forward to build a modern state on democratic principles we are back to seeking stability and searching for hidden hands — domestic and foreign — that meddle with the country’s security and safety.”

“I call on Egyptian people, Muslims and Christians, women and children, young men and elders to hold their unity,” Sharaf said.

The Christian protesters said their demonstration began as a peaceful attempt to sit in at the television building. But then, they said, they came under attack by thugs in plainclothes who rained stones down on them and fired pellets.

“The protest was peaceful. We wanted to hold a sit-in, as usual,” said Essam Khalili, a protester wearing a white shirt with a cross on it. “Thugs attacked us and a military vehicle jumped over a sidewalk and ran over at least 10 people. I saw them.”

Wael Roufail, another protester, corroborated the account. “I saw the vehicle running over the protesters. Then they opened fired at us,” he said.

Khalili said protesters set fire to army vehicles when they saw them hitting the protesters.

Ahmed Yahia, a Muslim resident who lives near the TV building, said he saw the military vehicle plow into protesters. “I saw a man’s head split into two halves and a second body flattened when the armored vehicle ran over it. When some Muslims saw the blood they joined the Christians against the army,” he said.

Television footage showed the military vehicle slamming into the crowd. Coptic protesters were shown attacking a soldier, while a priest tried to protect him. One soldier collapsed in tears as ambulances rushed to the scene to take away the injured.

At least 24 people were killed in the clashes, Health Ministry official Hisham Sheiha said on state TV.

State media reported that Egypt’s interim Cabinet was holding an emergency session to discuss the situation.