Wednesday,26 September, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1134, 7 - 13 February 2013
Wednesday,26 September, 2018
Issue 1134, 7 - 13 February 2013

Ahram Weekly

Protests continue

Political forces call for more demonstrations on Friday, reports Mohamed Abdel-Baky

Al-Ahram Weekly

After two weeks that have seen at least 62 deaths the opposition is calling for more protests on Friday.
The National Salvation Front (NSF), Egypt’s largest opposition bloc, was the first organisation to call for “Friday of Departure” protests.
According to a statement issued by the NSF, demonstrators will demand the dismissal of the current government, amendment of the recently approved constitution and the appointment of a new prosecutor-general.
“None of the revolution’s demands has been met,” said the NSF. “We call on all citizens to continue protesting until the ruler of this country understands that the goal of this revolution is to build a democratic state that includes all Egyptians.”
A host of non-Islamist political parties and movements have announced they will join the protests. The list includes the Egyptian Popular Current, the Popular Socialist Alliance, the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, the 6 April Youth Movement, the Free Egyptians Party, the Revolutionary Socialist Party, the Karama Party, the Kifaya movement and the National Association For Change.
Tagammu Party spokesman Nabil Zaki says his party plans to participate in any protest against the government until “the president listens to the demands of the Egyptian people”.
“The president calls for dialogue with the opposition from time to time to deceive the people and to cover his actions and those of the Muslim Brotherhood. The Brothers and their president don’t believe in dialogue,” says Zaki. “They only believe in domination.”
“Every Friday we will be in the street to protest against repression and against the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood which wants to turn Egypt into an autocratic country again,” says 6 April leader Ahmed Maher.
President Morsi, he adds, has adopted the repressive techniques Mubarak used for 30 years. 
Labour groups have also announced they will join protests to demand social justice. Labour rights activist Kamal Abbas predicts thousands of workers will be in Tahrir Square to express their anger over economic policy and the new constitution.
Protests will also take place in other towns and cities, including Alexandria and the Suez Canal cities of Port Said, Suez and Ismailia.
In Tanta thousands of protesters held a demonstration on Monday to protest against the killing of Popular Current activist Mohamed Al-Guindi, whose death is widely believed to have been the result of torture at the hands of Central Security Forces. Clashes occurred during the demonstration as protesters tried to break into the Gharbiya Security Directorate headquarters and Tanta police station.
Demonstrators hurled stones and Molotov cocktails at the police who fired barrages of tear gas. Nearby, a gang of criminals took advantage of the fracas to rob a gasoline station.
Al-Guindi, who was buried in his hometown Tanta, had been in Cairo to take part in demonstrations commemorating the second anniversary of the revolution. He disappeared from Tahrir Square on 28 January. Four days later Popular Current members located him in Al-Helal Public Hospital in a critical condition. Hospital officials claimed he had been involved in a car accident. Human rights lawyers point out that his body was covered in injuries, including signs of a wire around his neck and burns to his back and abdomen, that could only have been caused by prolonged torture.
Amr Al-Chobaki, a political expert at Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies, warns that the opposition could alienate support by calling for demonstrations targeting the president.
“The opposition has been adopting an increasingly radical discourse against Morsi. Such strategy may lead to the collapse of the current political system,” he says.
“Changing President Morsi or the Shura Council must be done through democratic process. Chaos will only help non-democratic political actors to control the country.”
Dina Al-Khawaga, a political science professor at Cairo University, worries that by adopting an anti-Brotherhood discourse the NSF has aggravated polarisation, adding to the rift between Islamists and civil powers by opening up divisions between the educated middle class and poorer urban and rural sectors.
“The NSF does not seem to pay enough attention to the Islamists’ popularity, as reflected in the results of elections and referendums since the revolution,” she said in an article published in Al-Masry Al-Youm.
She added that the NSF is failing to develop a discourse that expresses the demands of broad, disenfranchised social groups.
Mass protests started two weeks ago to mark the second anniversary of the revolution that toppled Hosni Mubarak. At least 62 people have been killed since 25 January.
Confrontations escalated last Friday when hundreds of thousands took to the streets across the country to protest against the way the Muslim Brotherhood and Morsi were seeking to monopolise power. In Cairo thousands of protesters marched on Al-Ittihadiya presidential palace in Heliopolis. At one point protesters hurled Molotov cocktails and aimed fireworks at the presidential compound, causing a small fire in the garden. Security forces fired tear gas at demonstrators and torched several tents that had been part of a sit-in.
The head of the Republican Guard condemned what he described as attempts to climb the compound walls and storm a gate. In a statement to the state news agency he urged protesters to keep their demonstration peaceful.
Clashes started when protesters tried to remove a barbed wire fence placed to prevent them approaching the compound.
“A group of people tried to remove the wires. Security forces tried to negotiate with them not to do so. They then retreated inside the palace while some protesters threw Molotov cocktail inside the palace grounds,” said Amr Said, an anti-government protester.
The protesters accuse President Morsi of betraying the revolution and acting only to further the interests and agenda of the Muslim Brotherhood, from whose ranks he hails. The Brotherhood accuses the opposition of trying to overthrow the first democratically elected leader in Egypt’s history.
The Ministry of Health reported that more than 400 people were injured and three killed during the clashes.
The presidency issued a statement condemning the assault on the palace and accused political forces which called for protests of instigating the violence.
The Muslim Brotherhood urged “political forces” to abandon protests near the palace to avoid “the potential for violence”.
Essam Al-Erian, vice president of the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), described the protests against Morsi as “criminal”.
“These are not protesters. These are criminals who should be chased down and brought to justice,” he said.
Several opposition groups that had called for the protests released statements condemning the use of violence and urging members to withdraw from areas around the palace.
“The NSF urges young activists at the palace to refrain from committing acts of violence and to employ exclusively peaceful methods. We also urge the Egyptian security forces to show restraint and use only legitimate means when dealing with protesters,” said an opposition statement.
An already inflammatory situation was fuelled when Al-Hayat television channel broadcast a film of helmeted riot police surrounding a prone, naked man whom they dragged across the asphalt while kicking and beating him with truncheons. Images of the assault proliferated online.
Port Said, Alexandria, Fayoum, Kafr Al-Sheikh, Qena, Suez and Arish also saw protests. In Alexandria thousands of anti-Morsi protesters halted trains for several hours while chanting slogans against Brotherhood rule. Demonstrations started with a march from Al-Qaed Ibrahim Mosque to Suez Canal Square, one of the city’s main traffic hubs. The Corniche was blocked for three hours, paralysing traffic.
Minor clashes also occurred between protesters and the police in front of the city council, resulting in several injuries. Ahli Ultras rallied on the Corniche to commemorate the victims of the Port Said stadium massacre.
Smaller confrontations between security forces and protesters were reported in Kafr Al-Sheikh where 18 people were injured. Clashes intensified after police fired tear gas at demonstrators — who responded by hurling rocks — outside the local governor’s office. In Fayoum, anti-government protesters occupied the municipal council for several hours, inviting citizens to come and air their grievances. 

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