Tens of thousands of Egyptian Islamists poured into Tahrir Square on Friday calling for a state bound by strict religious law and delivering a persuasive show of force in a turbulent country showing deep divisions and growing signs of polarization.
The shape of Egypt five months into its revolution remains distinctly undecided, and Islamists have long been the best organized political force in this religiously conservative country. Some activists speculated that their show of strength would serve as a jolt to the secular forces who helped to start the revolution but who remain divided, largely ineffectual and woefully unprepared for coming elections....
In terms of turnout, one of the largest since the revolution, the demonstration on Friday evoked past scenes in Tahrir Square. But many of the similarities stopped there. Cries for national unity and coexistence between Christians and Muslims made way for familiar religious chants and demands that Egypt adhere to Islamic law, known as Shariah.
“Islamic law is above the Constitution,” one banner read....
“If democracy is the voice of the majority and we as Islamists are the majority, why do they want to impose on us the views of minorities — the liberals and the secularists?” asked Mahmoud Nadi, 26, a student. “That’s all I want to know."
July 29, 2011
The NYT reports: