By Abeer Tayel
If Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Mursi becomes president, Egypt’s new capital will not be Cairo, but Jerusalem, a prominent Egyptian cleric said at a presidential campaign rally, which was aired by an Egyptian private TV channel.
“Our capital shall not be Cairo, Mecca, or Medina. It shall be Jerusalem with Allah’s will. Our chants shall be: ‘Millions of martyrs will march towards Jerusalem’,” prominent cleric Safwat Hegazy said, according to the video aired by Egypt’s religious Annas TV on Tuesday.
The video (above) went viral after being posted on YouTube, accompanied by English subtitles by Memri TV, with 61,691 views by Thursday night, June 7.
“The United States of the Arabs will be restored on the hands of that man [Mursi] and his supporters. The capital of the [Muslim] Caliphate will be Jerusalem with Allah’s will,” Hegazy said, as the crowds cheered, waving the Egyptian flags along with the flags of the Islamist Hamas group, which rules the Gaza Strip.
“Tomorrow Mursi will liberate Gaza,” the crowds chanted.
“Yes, we will either pray in Jerusalem or we will be martyred there,” Hegazy said. [Editor's note: Is he unaware that Muslims currently control the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, site of the Al Aksa Mosque, where Muslims pray regularly?]Hegazy’s speech came during a presidential campaign rally at the Egyptian Delta city of Mahalla, where Mursi attended along with the Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohammed Badei and members of the group and its political wing the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP).
Mursi will challenge Egypt’s former prime minister Ahmed Shafiq in the election run-off, scheduled on June 16 and 17. Shafiq, an air force general, was the country’s last prime minister before former president Hosni Mubarak was forced to step down by a popular uprising in February 2011.
A court on Saturday sentenced the former ruler and his interior minister to life imprisonment for their role in the killings of up to 850 protesters in the January 25 uprising that ended Mubarak’s 30-year rule. Six senior police officers were acquitted for lack of evidence.
The verdicts were met by angry street protests by Egyptians who considered them too lenient and demanded a purge of the judiciary.
Members of the Islamist-dominated parliament attacked the verdicts, accusing the court of ignoring the rights of peaceful protesters killed in the uprising.
Hegazy led thousands of protesters at Cairo’s iconic Tarir Square against the verdicts. Protesters also called for the endorsing of the ‘Political Isolation Law’ that could bar political figures from Mubarak era, including Shafiq, from joining political life in the country for some years.
Endorsing the law, which will be decided by Cairo Supreme Constitutional Court on June 14, two days before the election run-off, could push Shafiq out of the presidential race.
For activists, choosing Shafiq would symbolize a return to the old regime and an end to the revolution. Voting for Mursi, on the other hand, would mean handing Egypt to an Islamic movement they say has monopolized power since the uprising.