It was accompanied, unsurprisingly, by calls for rule by Sharia in Egypt, as the fundamental aim of jihad in all its forms is the imposition of Islamic law. “Sit-in for Egyptian cleric from ’93 NY attack,” by Aya Batrawy for the Associated Press, September 11:
CAIRO (AP) “” Around 100 Islamists protested Sunday near the U.S. Embassy in Cairo against the detention of Egyptian-born Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman, serving a life sentence in the U.S. for a plot to blow up New York City landmarks.
Known as the “Blind Sheik,” he was the spiritual leader of men convicted in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
Supporters of the 73 year-old sheik say they will not end their sit-in until he is repatriated to Egypt on humanitarian grounds.
Abdel-Rahman is diabetic and while in prison has waged hunger strikes and shunned his insulin.
Not only that, but he has tried to make himself sick by eating M&Ms while off of his insulin, knowing that if he dies in U.S. custody, his followers will want revenge.
His son, Mohamed, told reporters on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks that Abdel-Rahman was a victim of ousted President Hosni Mubarak’s anti-Islamist policies, and that Mubarak’s close ties to the U.S. helped ensure his arrest.
“He’s arrested for being an Islamist and for speaking out about corruption and oppression under Mubarak,” said the sheik’s son.
And a massive truck bomb under the World Trade Center. You forgot that part.
Sunday’s gathering of conservative Muslims, many of whom are part of Gamaa Islamiya, or the “Islamic Group,” would have been impossible under Mubarak. Also, it was near the heavily fortified concrete gates of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo.
The Gamaa Islamiya was a militant organization that fought the Mubarak regime in a bloody insurgency in the 1990s, seeking to establish an Islamic state in Egypt. Thousands of the group’s members were arrested under Mubarak’s nearly three-decade long rule.
Despite not receiving a permit to hold the sit-in “” something which was required and seldomly granted under Mubarak “” the group met with reporters and played video of the sheik’s past remarks. Riot police drove by the protest in trucks but did not interfere.
Egyptian police, discredited and unable to fully take back the streets since the uprising, have been reluctant to crack down on unauthorized protests, fearing any altercation could lead to widespread clashes and re-ignite simmering tensions.
The only visible security presence in the area were the Egyptian security personnel who are stationed around the clock near the U.S. Embassy.
Posters in support of the sheik extended as far as a major street intersection behind two international hotels popular with tourists.
One large poster featured a picture of Abdel-Rahman wearing his trademark black sunglasses. It read: “Open sit-in to support imprisoned scholars and calls for their return to their countries.”
The sheik’s 56 year-old wife Aisha Mohamed said his followers view him as a pillar of defiance against Mubarak’s policies, someone who “always speaks the truth, even when it’s dangerous.” She said she is the second of two wives and has eight children with him.
Supporter Aisha Hussein, who named her son after the sheik, was among a dozen women at the sit-in. She spoke in support of the sheik from behind an olive-green face veil.
She said she and her family were taking part in the sit-in to highlight Abdel-Rahman’s calls for Egypt be a country that follows Islamic law, known as Sharia, rather than its current mostly secular system.
“We should start with the Quran and the Prophet Muhammad’s ways. Then when people understand the religion and its core, we can begin to follow Sharia law,” she said.