Amid Chaos, Egypt's Parties Hold Rare Sit-Down

Country's top religious scholar gets call for unity, but no concrete action

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 31, 2013 1:25 PM CST

(Newser) – Egyptians saw a shockingly rare sight today: The leaders of their country's fractured and feuding political parties actually sitting across the table from one another. In a meeting brokered by Egypt's most influential Islamic scholar, Grand Imam Ahmed al-Tayyeb, leaders from both Egypt's secular opposition and its Islamist factions, from Mohamed ElBaradei to the head of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, agreed to renounce violence and seek national unity, the New York Times reports.

The imam emerged from the meeting and called for all policy disputes to be settled via a peaceful national dialogue encompassing "all components of the Egyptian society," adding that "political work has nothing to do with violence or sabotage." Participants on all sides seemed to agree—"We come out of this meeting with a type of optimism," ElBaradei said. But opposition leaders didn't cancel any of the demonstrations planned for tomorrow, Reuters reports, and Mohamed Morsi, who is currently in Germany, dismissed any possibility of a unity government.

In this Monday, Jan. 28, 2013 file photo, Egyptian protesters clash with riot police, background, near Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt.
In this Monday, Jan. 28, 2013 file photo, Egyptian protesters clash with riot police, background, near Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt.   (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra, File)
In this Monday, Jan. 28, 2013 file photo, Egyptian protesters run for cover during clashes with riot police near Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt.
In this Monday, Jan. 28, 2013 file photo, Egyptian protesters run for cover during clashes with riot police near Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt.   (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra, File)
In this Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013 file photo, Egyptian riot police arrest a man during clashes with protesters near Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt.
In this Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013 file photo, Egyptian riot police arrest a man during clashes with protesters near Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt.   (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra, File)
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