Islamists rally against violence in Egypt

February 16, 2013 - 4:46:22 am

CAIRO: Thousands of Islamists protested in Cairo yesterday against violence that has marred anti-government demonstrations, showing support for President Mohammed Mursi, the Muslim Brotherhood politician elected head of state last year. The “Together against Violence” rally was called by a Salafi Islamist group that waged an armed revolt against the state in the 1990s.

Al Gama’a Al Islamiya, whose leadership renounced violence more than a decade ago, has entered mainstream politics since autocratic president Hosni Mubarak was overthrown in 2011.

The Muslim Brotherhood and its Freedom and Justice Party said it backed the rally in a symbolic way but did not mobilise supporters for the event, meaning the numbers were smaller than at previous Islamist protests.

Around 60 people have been killed in Egypt since late January in unrest touched off by the anniversary of the uprising against Mubarak and exacerbated by a court ruling that sentenced 21 people to death over a soccer stadium disaster a year ago.

It has been the worst bloodshed since Mursi assumed office, underlining the instability that continues to thwart government efforts to restore a sense of normalcy and revive an economy in crisis by attracting fresh investment and tourism.

The unrest has been stirred by anger at Mursi and his Islamist backers, who the opposition says have betrayed the revolution and sought to monopolise power — accusations dismissed by the Muslim Brotherhood.

Repeating the pattern of recent weeks, Mursi’s opponents rallied again yesterday, this time gathering outside El Quba, one of the presidential palaces in the northern suburbs of Cairo.