Friday,23 February, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1137, 28 February - 6 March 2013
Friday,23 February, 2018
Issue 1137, 28 February - 6 March 2013

Ahram Weekly

No to obedience

Calls for civil disobedience are spreading throughout the country, reports Ahmed Morsy

Al-Ahram Weekly

Dozens of protesters blocked the doors to Cairo’s main administrative building, Mugamma Al-Tahrir or Tahrir Complex, and major government public service units on Sunday as part of a growing campaign of civil disobedience throughout the country. After a fortnight of civil disobedience sparked in the canal city of Port Said, the campaign spread to other parts of Egypt as a response to a call for civil disobedience against President Mohamed Morsi, and at times his government.

The protesters closed the doors of the Mugamma, a massive labyrinth of bureaucratic offices on the edge of Tahrir Square, forcing out employees by leaving only a side exit open for them, protesting against Morsi’s call for parliamentary elections in April. However, after hundreds of people poured into the complex on Monday for fear of other closures, the protesters consequently reopened it early morning.

Earlier this month, demonstrators closed the Mugamma for nearly five days to demand retribution for the killing of protesters, the removal of the government and the prosecutor-general, and the formation of a panel to amend the current constitution.

In Giza, protesters gathered on Sunday night in front of the governorate building blocking Al-Haram Street and calling for civil disobedience. Giza Governor Ali Abdel-Rahman stated on Monday that the governorate building was open for business.

“Despite the citizens’ rights to express themselves peacefully, it is absolutely rejected to impede the interests of citizens or block traffic,” Abdel-Rahman said, according to the state-owned news agency MENA.

Elsewhere, calls for adopting civil disobedience as an effective way than merely protesting continued to rock Egyptian governorates for the second week. Marches swept Port Said on 17 February when Ultras Green Eagles, fans of Al-Masri football club, called for civil disobedience along with other groups over what was termed the injustices endured by residents in the governorate.

The marches called for justice for protesters killed during clashes on 26 January. More than 40 people died in the clashes after the Port Said Criminal Court sentenced 21 people to death for killing 74 football fans in February 2012. The remaining defendants will be tried on 9 March.

In addition, in Ismailia, revolutionary groups held a meeting on Monday to plan civil disobedience in the governorate in order to join Port Said. The campaign that began in Port Said and reached its ninth day on Monday, stretched to the Nile Delta city of Mansoura on Monday.

In Mansoura on Saturday anti-government protesters blocked the main roads in the city, including the construction of a fence in one street to block traffic. During the weekend, anonymous individuals distributed flyers across the city calling for the campaign. They stressed that the campaign was a legitimate way for citizens to peacefully express their grievances.

Clashes erupted between both opponents and supporters of calls for civil disobedience for three days in Mansoura up until Monday, forcing the security forces to intervene. The clashes erupted in front of the governorate headquarters as protesters attempted to stop employees from entering the building. Security forces used large amounts of tear gas, leaving several protesters with breathing difficulties.

The governor of Daqahliya, Mohamed Abdel-Kader, denied there was civil disobedience in Mansoura, stressing that work was moving smoothly in all the cities of the governorates and all governmental institutes.

Moreover, despite the nine-day disobedience campaign in Port Said, Prime Minister Hisham Kandil, speaking on Sunday, also denied any incidents of civil disobedience in any Egyptian city.

Last week, residents of the Suez Canal city of Port Said launched a civil disobedience campaign for almost a week in protest at what they described as increased marginalisation as well as the death sentences handed to 21 locals in the Port Said football killings trial.

In the Nile Delta city of Mahalla, in Gharbiya governorate, hundreds went on strike and blockaded the main streets of the city on Sunday as part of a campaign of civil disobedience.

In September last year there was a campaign of civil disobedience in the village of Tahsin in Daqahliya governorate in protest at government neglect and a lack of infrastructure.

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