Egypt Islamists lukewarm on calls for mass protest

Sun Jan 23, 2011 4:26pm GMT

By Yasmine Saleh

CAIRO (Reuters) - Young members of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood said on Sunday they would join an anti-government protest this week prompted by the turmoil in Tunisia, although the opposition group has not made a direct call to participate.

Egyptian activists inspired by the overthrow of Tunisia's president plan a nationwide rally on Tuesday to protest against poverty, unemployment, corruption and police brutality, echoing the complaints that drove Tunisians on to the streets.

Egypt's Web activists, among the state's most vociferous critics, have sought to galvanise support via a Facebook group which attracted 50,000 online supporters within days of its launch.

The Brotherhood, which political analysts say has the ability to call thousands of disciplined supporters on to the streets if it wishes, has not openly called for its members to join in, but said it did not oppose youths or anyone else participating.

Tuesday's protests, due to be held on a national holiday to honour the police, will be a test of the online opposition's ability to turn Web activism into street action.

The response of Brotherhood members reflects rifts between a youthful branch keen to hit the streets and an older generation that wants to win society over to its Islamist goals without clashes which would incur the wrath of the state.

"It is upsetting many of us that the group does not participate in any national event and it seems the group puts the organisation's benefits above all other things," said Abdel-Rahman, a 21-year-old student and Brotherhood member.

Abdel-Rahman, who said he helps organise Brotherhood youth events, declined to have his family name published.   Continued...

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