Islamists join Egypt protesters

Islamists join Egypt protesters

Turmoil continues: Activists call for march of millions today

Islamists join Egypt protesters

No letup: Egyptian protesters gather near army tanks in Cairo’s central Tahrir square on Monday. AFP

The announcement came as Egyptian protesters gathered by the thousands on Monday for the seventh day in the central Liberation Square. Concerns over violence grew, as for the first time in three days, security police redeployed and clustered near the square’s entrances along with soldiers.

“I brought my American passport today in case I die today,” said Marwan Mossaad, 33, a graduate student of architecture with dual Egyptian-American citizenship. “I want the American people to know that they are supporting one of the most oppressive regimes in the world and Americans are also dying for it.”

In contrast to the prior days of protests dominated by the young, the demonstrations on Monday included a more obvious contingent of older, disciplined protesters and members of the Muslim Brotherhood. Egyptians gathered at mosques around the city for noon prayers and then marched by the hundreds and thousands towards Liberation Square.

“Come down Egyptians!” chanted one group heading to the square, drawing men into their march from the buildings they passed. The group, led by older men, linked hands and kept to one lane of traffic, allowing cars to pass.

At the square, they joined protesters who had stayed there all night in defiance of a curfew that the authorities are now seeking to enforce an hour earlier in the day.

The numbers in the square appeared to exceed those of previous days, despite an apparent effort by the military to impose some kind of authority and corral the protesters into a narrower space.

Army troops checked the identity of people entering the square and began placing a cordon of concrete barriers and razor wire around its access routes, news reports said, but there were no immediate reports of clashes with protesters who have cast the military as their ally and protector. As military helicopters circled overhead, demonstrators jabbed their fists in the air. “The people and the army are one hand,” protesters chanted.

Largest demonstration

Organisers said they were calling for the largest demonstrations yet—a “march of millions”—on Tuesday, seen as an attempt to retake the initiative in the face of a government campaign to cast the uprising as an incubator of lawlessness after several nights of looting.

Witnesses in Alexandria said police had also returned to the streets, though in small numbers accompanied by soldiers.

The announcement that the critic Mohamed ElBaradei would represent a loosely unified opposition reconfigured the struggle between Mubarak’s government and a seven-day-old uprising bent on driving him from power.

Though lacking deep support on his own, ElBaradei, a Nobel laureate and diplomat, could serve as a consensus figure for a movement that has struggled to articulate a program for a potential transition.

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