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Sunday, August 14, 2011

Anti-Islamist rally in Tahrir Square fizzles

A week ago I noted that a coalition of Coptic Christians, Egyptian secularists and other Egyptian liberals planned to hold a massive rally in Tahrir Square on Friday, including the world's largest Iftar breakfast at sunset. This was in reaction to the huge Islamist rally the previous Friday in the square.

The protest fizzled, badly:
Protesters from various political groups gathered in Tahrir Square on Friday to break their Ramadan fast.

Several political groups and some Sufi orders decided to organize a Tahrir protest to emphasize their demand for a civil state after Islamists made a show of force in a 29 July protest, calling for an Islamic state.

But the run up to Friday's protest was mired in confusion as those who had organized the "For the Love of Egypt" protest disagreed on whether to hold it then or next Friday.

The head of the 6 April Youth Movement, Ahmed Maher, told Al-Masry Al-Youm that negotiations with the cabinet of Prime Minister Essam Sharaf were behind the confusion.

"The prime minister's office had given promises in exchange for delaying the march, and these were to release a statement supporting a civil state and endorsing the march the following week. They did neither, so we are here today," he said.

Some of the Sufi orders and Coptic Christian groups that had called for the protest also decided to go to the square on 12 August.
This symbolizes why Egypt is in serious trouble. It isn't that nobody opposed the Islamists, but that the Islamists are far better organized than any other group.

Political gains require organization, not just spontaneous passion that can evaporate as quickly as it appears.