Anger at the Brotherhood
President Mohamed Mursi and Prime Minister Hisham Qandil were prevented from attending the funeral of victims of the Rafah terrorist attack this week, indicating growing anger with the Muslim Brotherhood, reports Gamal Essam El-Din
Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi failed to attend the military funeral of the army soldiers killed in the terrorist attacks in North Sinai on 5 August on Tuesday, with Prime Minister Hisham Qandil also being prevented from participating in the funeral after angry protesters had attacked him on his arrival at the Al-Rashdan Mosque in Nasr City.
The protesters held their shoes up in the air and chanted anti-Muslim Brotherhood slogans such as "Down with the State of the Murshid," referring to the Supreme Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood, and "You killed them, you dogs."
The angry protesters had gathered in the early morning, and their numbers were estimated at thousands, congregating not only at the Al-Rashdan Mosque but also at the Memorial to the Unknown Soldier nearby.
No sooner had the funeral started than the protesters stormed the mosque, close to the Cairo football stadium, and Qandil who had arrived in order to perform funeral prayers found himself in the middle of thousands of angry protesters. He was saved by security guards and guided safely back to his car.
News of the attack on Qandil may have led security officers to advise Mursi not to participate in the funeral either, though presidential spokesman Yasser Ali said that Mursi had not attended because "he wanted it to be a public rather an official event."
Ali said that there had been "anger at the funeral, and this made President Mursi decide not to participate and carry out his schedule as planned".
Mursi visited the Sinai on Monday, staying for a few hours and angering local residents who accused him of refusing to meet with them to discuss their problems. According to one source, Mursi held a brief meeting with security officials in North Sinai and then went back to Cairo by helicopter.
Mursi had been supposed to go to the Memorial to the Unknown Soldier in Nasr City after noon prayers on Tuesday in order to participate in a funeral march after the bodies of the dead soldiers had been transported from the Al-Rashdan Mosque.
Other senior state officials, including the minister of defence, Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, and Chief of Military Staff Sami Anan successfully participated in the funeral.
Some Islamists who joined the funeral march accused diehards from ousted former president Hosni Mubarak's former ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) of orchestrating the attacks on Qandil and embarrassing Mursi.
Nader Bakkar, spokesman for the Salafist Nour Party, said that the mosque had been "stormed by thousands of protesters chanting slogans against Mursi and the Muslim Brotherhood". He accused Tawfik Okasha, owner of the private satellite channel Faraeen, of orchestrating the protests in order to embarrass Mursi.
On Sunday night, just hours after the killing of the Egyptian border guards at North Sinai's Rafah City, protesters surrounded the presidential palace of Ittihadiya and some tried to attack Mursi's car. The presidential guard intervened, and some arrests were made.
Tuesday's protests reflect growing anger with the performance of President Mursi and newly-appointed Prime Minister Hisham Qandil, as well as with the Muslim Brotherhood as a whole, according to many political analysts.
Analyst Diaa Rashwan said that "since he took office on 30 June, Mursi has not been able to become a president for all Egyptians, and his decisions have been inspired by the Muslim Brotherhood, the group he served for 30 years."
When Ismail Haniyeh, prime minister of the Hamas-dominated Gaza Strip, visited Egypt last week, it was announced that Palestinians would be free to enter Egypt from the Rafah crossing, angering a section of Egyptian public opinion, which fears that this could allow terrorists into Sinai and to establish an "Islamist emirate" there.
Private satellite channels have claimed that Mursi has instructed the Ministry of Energy to provide Gaza with electricity and huge quantities of diesel fuel at the expense of Egypt, which has been suffering from electrical blackouts during Ramadan.
Some have also accused Mursi of ordering the release of hundreds of prisoners involved in terrorist acts in Egypt over the last four decades. "All of these decisions have led many to believe that Mursi is serving as the president of the Islamists, the Muslim Brotherhood, and Hamas in Gaza, rather than serving the interests of Egypt as a whole," Rashwan said.
Several liberal groups have called for a "second revolution" to be mounted against Mursi, the Qandil government, and the Muslim Brotherhood on 24-25 August. Mohamed Abu Hamed, a former liberal MP, said that "thousands of people will gather on these two days in front of the presidential palace and the Muslim Brotherhood's headquarters in Al-Muqattam to demand that the group be banned, that its finances be made public, and that the government led by Qandil be fired and a new constituent assembly summoned in its place."
Mursi took more than a month to form his first government, and he has still not appointed a vice president.