CAIRO - For the first time in months, Egypt Islamist and liberal forces reunited in Tahrir square on Friday, April 20, in a million march to demand their military rulers stick to a pledge to hand over power by mid-year.
"We are all here to protect the revolution and complete its demands," Sayed Gad, 38, a pharmacist and Brotherhood member, told Reuters.
Gad, as well as hundreds of thousands of Egyptians, joined a protest which attracted both Islamists and liberals to a packed Tahrir Square in central Cairo, although the two sides were not united on all their demands.Qaradawi Urges Egypt Rivals to Heal Rift
The protest comes just a month ahead of the country's anticipated presidential elections, the subject of increasing controversy in Egypt.
"Down with military rule" and "The people want the execution of the marshal," some protesters chanted.
Earlier this week, the Supreme Presidential Electoral Commission disqualified 10 presidential candidates, including two front-runners; one representing the Muslim Brotherhood and the other the Salafi mainstream.
Khairat al-Shater, the Brotherhood's former candidate, said his ejection showed the generals who have ruled since Hosni Mubarak was ousted last year had no serious intention of quitting.
The movement is now fielding a reserve candidate.
Salfist Hazem Abu Ismael was also banned due to information that his mother holds a US passport, which is against the rules of candidacy.
Another candidate, Omar Suleiman, Mubarak's former spy chief and briefly his vice-president, was also ejected from the race.
His candidacy had raised fears the army wanted to roll back gains made since last year's uprising, but there are still others in the race seen as vestiges of Mubarak's old order.
"No to remnants. No to military rule," read one banner that carried pictures of Mubarak's last prime minister Ahmed Shafiq, a former air force commander, and of Amr Moussa, a former foreign minister.
Friday's demonstration was the first in months to bring both Islamists and liberals together.
"Those who left the square in difficult times must come back and not leave until the revolution's demands are met," Kamal Helbawy, who quit the Brotherhood after its U-turn over a presidential bid, told protesters from one of the podiums.
Yet, Tahrir's unity spirit did not gather all protesters under one umbrella.
Hundreds of soccer fans, or "ultras", gathered just off Tahrir to protest the massacre of 74 supporters of the popular Al-Ahli soccer club in stadium violence which fans blamed on bad policing.
Fans chanted slogans against the military and praising those who had died.
Among the protesters were supporters of Hazem Salah Abu Ismail, a Salafi candidate for the presidency who had been disqualified.
From a stage in Tahrir Square where his supporters had also gathered on Friday, people chanted over loudspeakers: "Islamic revolution! With our soul and blood, we sacrifice for Islam!" and "Qur'an is the constitution!"
The April 6 youth group also called for Friday's protests in part to demand that new criteria be laid down to ensure a diverse make-up for the constituent assembly.
But most demonstrators sought to play down any rivalries in Friday's protest.
"Hand in hand," protesters chanted.
Another banner read: "Together against the continuation of army rule."
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net