Egypt Islamists rally for jihad


Protesters shout slogans during the rally in Cairo yesterday.

Protesters shout slogans during the rally in Cairo yesterday.

(Gulf-Times) Thousands of Islamists rallied in the Egyptian capital yesterday in support of calls by clerics for a holy war against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The demonstration took place outside a Cairo mosque where Saudi preacher Mohamed al-Oreifi called in a sermon for a “jihad in the cause of Allah in Syria”.

Oreifi urged worshippers to “unite against their enemy”.

Demonstrators shouted “there is no God but Allah, and Bashar is his enemy.”

People waved not only the Egyptian flag but also the one adopted by the Syrian opposition.

On Thursday, influential clerics from several Arab states called for a holy war against the “sectarian” regime in Syria.

“We must undertake jihad to help our brothers in Syria by sending them money and arms, and providing all aid to save the Syrian people from this sectarian regime,” they said in a statement at the end of a gathering in Cairo.

They called the “flagrant aggression” of Iran and the Lebanese movement Hezbollah and their “sectarian allies” in Syria “a declaration of war against Islam and Muslims”.

Hezbollah’s intervention in Syria, which helped Assad’s troops overrun the strategic town of Qusayr, has been roundly condemned by Arab countries.

In Cairo, a senior aide to President Mohamed Mursi demanded on Thursday that the group “immediately end” its involvement in Syria.

The Shia group’s assistance to Assad could “further turn this conflict into a sectarian conflict that will spill over into the entireregion”, Khaled al-Qazzaz said.

Qazzaz, Mursi’s secretary on foreign relations, said the government was not trying to stop Egyptians from volunteering in Syria, mostly in relief work.

“The right of travel or the freedom of travel or taking certain positions is open for all Egyptians,” he told reporters at a briefing.

“But we did not call on Egyptians to go and fight in Syria,” he said.

Egypt believes the conflict will have to be resolved politically, he added.

During yesterday’s rally, 22-year-old student Ossam Zeyd said “I am here to support the Syrian people. I am participating in jihad in Allah’s cause by prayer and by sending money.”

A number of Egyptian humanitarian organisations have set up stands outside mosques to collect funds for Syrians.

And Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, from whose ranks Mursi comes, will hold a gathering today at a stadium in Cairo under the slogan “in support of the Syria revolution”.

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