President-elect Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood pre-empted the military’s choreographed swearing-in ceremony by taking an oath of office a day early on Friday, in a televised speech to tens of thousands of supporters in Tahrir Square.An "almost offhand aside?" No, not quite.
But a promise Mr. Morsi made as part of his speech may provoke Washington: to work for the release of Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, the Egyptian-born militant Islamist convicted after the 1993 World Trade Center attack of plotting to bomb several New York City landmarks.
Mr. Morsi referred briefly to Mr. Abdel Rahman in an almost offhand aside in the context of a vow to free Egyptian civilians imprisoned here after military trials under the rule of the generals. “I see signs for Omar Abdel Rahman and detainees’ pictures,” he said. “It is my duty and I will make all efforts to have them free, including Omar Abdel Rahman.”
Rahman's son told Al Masry Al Youm that Morsi personally promised him that he would lobby for Rahman's release in an upcoming meeting with Hillary Clinton, so this wasn't an off-the-cuff remark as the Times seems to imply.
It is not only Morsi who wants to see the "blind sheikh" freed. There are large banners in Cairo calling for his release, and many people have rallied for it:
Here are some other photos of pro-Rahman rallies in Egypt:
They sit sprawled out on a side street leading to the American Embassy. The group of some 20 protesters are demanding the release of blind sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, who has remained in American jail since being convicted of being the mastermind behind the 1993 World Trade Center attack.
“He is innocent and we demand him be allowed to return to Egypt and live out his life,” said a family supporter late last year, who like Rahman, is also an American citizen and asked that his name not be revealed. He plans to travel to the US in the new year.
“We are here to show America that they cannot create charges and then put a man, who is not healthy and who is old, in solitary confinement,” he told Bikyamasr.com.
This paragraph from the NYT is also unintentionally illuminating::
A Brotherhood spokesman said later that Mr. Morsi intended to ask federal officials in the United States to have Mr. Abdel Rahman extradited to Egypt on humanitarian grounds. He was not seeking to have Mr. Abdel Rahman’s convictions overturned or calling him a political prisoner.Given that Morsi supposedly officially quit the Muslim Brotherhood after winning the election on Sunday, isn't it interesting that a Muslim Brotherhood spokesman is speaking for him on Friday?