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Middle East
Activists rally for 'unity' in Egypt
Tens of thousands of people gather in Cairo's Tahrir Square in bid to show political parties united in seeking change.
Last Modified: 29 Jul 2011 12:20



Tens of thousands of people have packed Cairo's Tahrir Square on a day that representatives from Egypt's political parties have dubbed "The Friday of Unity and the People's Will".

The rally comes as part of efforts by political parties to show a united front and the country's political forces recently agreed on a common set of demands to ensure a peaceful, high turnout at Friday's rally.

The demands include ending military trials for civilians, seeking justice for families of those killed during the revolution, raising the minimum wage, and ensuring quick trials for former government officials.

"Most of our demands are the same but of course there are differences and everybody has a right to their opinion and to protest," Abdel Aal, a member of the Islamic Group party, told Al Jazeera in advance of the rally.

However, disagreements have arisen over some issues, and some groups have boycotted the weekly Friday protests in the last two weeks because of a call by some to remove the military council from power.

In video

Shadi Hamid, from the Brookings Doha Center, discusses the importance of unity

Al Jazeera's Sherine Tadros, reporting from Cairo, said: "This is the biggest rally turnout since former President Mubarak's ouster in February.

"Friday's rally would be the first test of how committed Egypt's parties were to the principle of unity, for the sake of the country," Tadros said.

Shadi Hamid from the Brookings Doha Center told Al Jazeera that the high turn out at the rally shows that Egyptians are not going home.

"They will keep coming until their demands have been met.

"This sends a message to other protest movements in the region that this is an ongoing process that no matter what the military does to stifle that, Arabs are empowered and they will increase in numbers.

"More importantly, it is crucial that Islamists and liberals come together and avoid divisions that have plagued them in the past," Hamid said.

Mubarak trial

The rally comes a day after the country's justice ministry announced that the trial of former President Hosni Mubarak and others accused of involvement in the killing of protesters during the country's uprising would be held in Cairo.

"It has been decided that the trial of ex-president Hosni Mubarak and his two sons Alaa and Gamal ... will be held in the building of the General Authority for Investment and the free trade areas in the Cairo Expo grounds," MENA quoted a justice ministry official as saying on Thursday.

Mubarak has been in hospital in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh since April when he was first questioned by the authorities.

 

He has been charged with involvement in the killing of protesters and abuse of power and is due to stand trial on August 3.

It was not immediately clear if Mubarak's health condition would prevent him from attending in person.

Egypt's health minister has said Mubarak is healthy enough to be moved to Cairo for his trial.

Amr Hilmy told reporters that "Mubarak's health is in an appropriate condition to be tried in Cairo".

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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