Morsi at Tahrir Square
Morsi at Tahrir Square Reuters

Egypt’s new president, Mohammed Morsi, paid tribute on Friday to Egypt's Muslims and Christians and symbolically swore himself in as the country's first elected civilian president before a huge crowd at Tahrir Square.

AFP reported that Morsi was received with applause by the tens of thousands of people gathered in the birthplace of the revolt that overthrew his predecessor, Hosni Mubarak, last year.

He promised a “civilian state” and praised “the square of the revolution, the square of freedom,” in what he called an address to “the free world, Arabs, Muslims... the Muslims of Egypt, Christians of Egypt.”

Morsi symbolically swore himself in before the crowd, saying, “I swear to preserve the republican system... and to preserve the independence” of Egypt.

AFP noted that in his speech, Morsi served the United States with advance warning that his politics will be markedly different from those of his ousted predecessor.

He told the Tahrir crowd he would work to secure freedom for Omar Abdul Rahman, a blind Egyptian cleric jailed for life over the 1993 World Trade Centre bombing.

“I will do everything in my power to secure freedom for... detainees, including Sheikh Omar Abdul Rahman,” Morsi was quoted by AFP as having said.

Abdul Rahman was convicted in 1995 for his role in the World Trade Centre bombing, plotting to bomb other New York targets including the United Nations, and a plan to assassinate Mubarak.

The presidency announced late on Thursday that Morsi would officially be sworn in Saturday before the Constitutional Court, after differences with the army over the transfer of power to the nation's first civilian president.

Traditionally the president takes the oath in parliament, but Egypt's top court ordered the disbanding of the Islamist-dominated legislature. AFP noted that by agreeing to be sworn in by the Constitutional Court, Morsi is effectively acknowledging the court's decision to dissolve parliament.

Meanwhile, in a meeting with Egyptian newspaper editors reported by most dailies on Friday, Morsi pledged there would be "no Islamization of state institutions" during his presidency.

However, the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) has reported that during his election campaign, Morsi reiterated his commitment to jihad and to the Islamic sharia law.

Morsi made the remarks in a speech broadcast on May 13 on the Egyptian Misr 25 television network. His remarks in Arabic were translated to English by MEMRI.

“The Koran was and will continue to be our constitution,” the Muslim Brotherhood candidate said. “The Koran is our constitution. The prophet Muhammad is our leader. Jihad is our path. And death for the sake of Allah is our most lofty aspiration.”

Morsi also said, “This nation will enjoy blessing and revival only through the Islamic sharia. I take an oath before Allah and before you all that regardless of the actual text (of the constitution), Allah willing, the text will truly reflect (the sharia).”

(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)

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