Wednesday,18 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1231, (29 January - 4 February 2015)
Wednesday,18 October, 2017
Issue 1231, (29 January - 4 February 2015)

Ahram Weekly

No vindication

The fourth anniversary of the revolution was a tumultuous affair, writes Amany Maged

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Al-Ahram Weekly

Last week saw ceremonies commemorating the fourth anniversary of the 25 January 2011 Revolution along with outbreaks of violence in many parts of the country. According to a statement issued by the cabinet, 20 people were killed and 50 wounded.

One of the most tragic incidents occurred on Saturday, one day before the anniversary, when political activist Shaimaa Al-Sabagh was shot dead at an otherwise peaceful protest attended by a few dozen people in downtown Cairo.

Violent disturbances erupted in most governorates. In an attempt to sow panic, members of terrorist groups planted rudimentary bombs and concussion grenades, blocked roads by setting fires and attempted to blow up electricity pylons.

In Bahariya, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood threw a bomb at an electricity tower in Abu Al-Matamir. The explosion caused some damage to the tower and injured one of the terrorists.

Emergency services in Alexandria reported one death during a Muslim Brotherhood march in Montazah, after demonstrators armed with guns reportedly opened fire indiscriminately in the street.

In Gharbiya, explosives experts successfully defused a bomb planted next to the railroad tracks at Al-Hawis crossing in Al-Dalgamoun Kafr Al-Zayyat. Trains between Cairo and Alexandria were halted for four hours.

Explosive devices were detonated beneath two electricity pylons in Menoufiya, one in Kafour Al-Rimal and the second in Mit Moussa. Both towers collapsed, cutting electricity to the two villages and causing panic among residents.

Security forces in Assiout foiled an attempt to set fire to an electricity transformer and block the main road in the Al-Shader area of the city.

In Aswan, explosives experts used a controlled detonation to destroy a bomb placed in the branches of a tree in front of Mar Girgis Church in Komombo.

Security sources in Sharqiya reported bombings at five electricity stations in Tenth of Ramadan City and an explosion on the city’s gas mains. The explosion, which caused no casualties, resulted in gas supplies being cut.

In the early hours of 25 January a large explosive device was defused in Daqhaliya. In Qalioubiya, a crude bomb planted next to the Shabin Al-Qanater telephone centre was dismantled. Bombs were also defused in North Sinai and Qena.

In Cairo, demonstrators clashed with the police in the working-class suburbs of Matariya and Ain Shams. Matariya witnessed intense events on 25 January, with most of the civilians who were killed in Cairo coming from this district.

Matariya witnessed several clashes between police forces and supporters of the toppled president Mohamed Morsi. More than ten people were killed in the Matariya clashes, among them a ten-year-old boy. Violence in the district erupted on 25 January and continued until security forces regained control of the area on 26 January.

The metro station at Ain Shams was closed as a result of the disturbances. In Giza, clashes occurred in the Pyramids Road area.

News of the killing of Shaimaa Al-Sabbagh in downtown Cairo triggered angry reactions. Political forces accused the police of murdering the secular activist during a peaceful demonstration on the eve of the annual commemoration of the 25 January Revolution. The public prosecutor’s office is investigating Shaimaa’s death.

The National Alliance to Support Legitimacy (NASL) released a statement saying it was “monitoring the voice of the street” and urged Egyptians to “remove military rule through steadfastness and ingenuity.” The statement concluded, “The coup must inevitably fall.”

The Popular Resistance in Giza, a pro-Muslim Brotherhood group, claimed responsibility on its Facebook page for the fire that damaged the Joheina Police Station in Six October City.

Mukhtar Noh, a breakaway Muslim Brotherhood official, says that the group’s leadership has crumbled and members are doing whatever they please. In a press statement, he said that the Brotherhood has lost control of its members.

“There are Muslim Brothers who want to prosecute Khairat Al-Shater and bring him to account,” said Noh. “Others argue for patience and want to wait until the Muslim Brotherhood recovers from the current crisis. But the fact is that the Muslim Brotherhood no longer exists as a coherent organisation.”

Yet it appears to have appointed a new spokesman. Appearing on the Brotherhood satellite channel Egypt Now, Mohamed Montasser announced that the group had chosen him as their spokesman. He went on to exhort Brotherhood members to “continue demonstrations and not to stop.”

Muslim Brothers abroad also spoke in favour of further action. Sheikh Yousef Al-Qaradawi, head of the International Federation of Muslim Ulema, used the anniversary of the 25 January Revolution to deliver a diatribe against the Egyptian army and police. He urged young Muslim Brotherhood supporters to take to the streets against the regime.

Amr Darrag, formerly head of the foreign relations committee of the now-dissolved Freedom and Justice Party, wrote on his Twitter account from Turkey: “On the morning of the revolution I feel proud to be Egyptian after having woken to news of roaring crowds across the length and breadth of the country.”

Ali Al-Qura Daghi, secretary-general of the Federation of Muslim Ulema, also urged Muslim Brothers to demonstrate on 25 January.

Yahya Hamed, who served as Mohamed Morsi’s minister of investment, wrote on his Facebook page: “25 January is a revolution for claiming our freedoms and breaking governments,” while Brotherhood official Gamal Abdel Sattar used his Facebook account to call for “jihad.” Bassem Khafagi, a Muslim Brotherhood ally speaking from the comfort of Turkey, called for an “intifada” against security agencies.

Ahmed Ban, an expert on Islamist groups, says it is ironic that the Muslim Brothers, who betrayed the 25 January Revolution to advance their own narrow interests, are now calling for protests in Egypt’s streets and squares. The Muslim Brotherhood’s actions, he says, are informed by the shock of having been removed from power, rather than any commitment to defending the lost revolution.

The Brotherhood, Ban said during a telephone interview with the Tahrir satellite channel, is “committing collective suicide by virtue of attacks carried it has carried out in cooperation with jihadist groups as it writes the final chapters of its demise.”

Karim Hassan, a member of the Breakaway Muslim Brothers Movement, warns that the dismal failure of the Brotherhood’s campaigns in the street may drive it towards more systematic, militia-style violence. Hassan urged the state to assimilate moderate Islamist forces into the political process.

Security forces appear to have succeeded in keeping last week’s violence under control. Egypt has grown accustomed to outbursts of violence, particularly on emotive anniversaries, after which calm is quickly restored.

Curiously, given recent events, the subject of reconciliation has arisen once again, though indirectly and behind the scenes. Perhaps this is not altogether surprising, given that parliamentary elections are around the corner and the government is planning to host a major economic conference in March.

Some analysts argue that at this juncture the Brotherhood and the state would both welcome an opportunity to catch their breath and rearrange whatever cards they believe remain in their hands.

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