Wednesday,15 August, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1224, (4 - 10 December 2014)
Wednesday,15 August, 2018
Issue 1224, (4 - 10 December 2014)

Ahram Weekly

Imaginary revolution

Islamists failed to mobilise on 28 November for the much vaunted “uprising of Muslim Youth”. Amany Maged reports

Al-Ahram Weekly

Friday 28 November came and went without much ado. Turnout for the so-called uprising of Muslim youth called for by the Salafist Front was insignificant. For most Cairenes Friday was notable largely because of the absence of traffic.

Politicians viewed the low turnout as a signal the Egyptian state had finally reasserted itself in the streets. Several political analysts saw the lack of response to the Salafist Front’s call as sounding the deathknell for the Islamist trend.

The Muslim Brothers “are gulping down failure” said security expert Major Khaled Okasha. He noted that the “terrorist group” — a reference to the Muslim Brotherhood — had supported the campaign, though at the last minute it backtracked and issued a call to avoid bloodshed.

“Its members took to side streets,” said Okasha. “They did not resort to violence, with the exception of a few isolated incidents intended to sow alarm among the public.”

General Abdel-Latif Al-Badini agrees. The day passed relatively normally, though Al-Badini was critical of the way some security agencies joined groups promoting the call for “Islamic revolution” to exaggerate incidents that did occur. “People who act don’t talk,” he said.

Al-Badini described the Muslim Brotherhood’s last-minute decision not to take part in the planned demonstrations as “logical”.

“The Brotherhood realised that it would be futile.”

Security expert General Rifaat Abdel-Hamid views 28 November as a testament to the Muslim Brotherhood’s growing inability to muster crowds and funding as now most of its leaders are in prison.

Security agencies had taken precautionary measures in anticipation of the so-called revolution. Some of these fell into the category of pre-emptive strikes. Members of a cell in the Qalioubiya governorate who were planning to mobilise in the cities of Al-Obour, Al-Khanka and Shebin Al-Qanater were detained. It was reported that they had equipped themselves with quantities of sticks and canes, firecrackers and Molotov cocktails.

Security agencies had raised the alert to high across Egypt. Security was tightened around all major facilities.

Ministry spokesman General Hani Abdel-Latif issued a press statement noting security forces, with the support of the Armed Forces, “performed their assigned tasks with competence, frustrating terrorist plans to shake the stability of Egypt by means of the demonstrations called for Friday by the Salafist Front beneath the banner of the ‘uprising of Muslim youth’.”

“Security agencies succeeded in thwarting the plans of extremist terrorist organisations bent on sowing chaos and terrorising people in the streets.”

The Ministry of Health and Population announced that 28 people were wounded on Friday, and three killed. Two soldiers were killed in a drive by shooting in Gisr Al-Suez in Cairo, and a civilian was caught in random gunfire in the Matariya area of Cairo. The ministry’s statement, issued on Friday night, noted the 28 wounded came from the governorates of Sharqiya, Cairo, Giza, Qalioubiya and Alexandria.

The operations room of the Ministry of Local Development recorded acts of vandalism by Muslim Brotherhood members or supporters in some governorates.

The Local Development Ministry report noted that while calm prevailed in the governorates of Suez, South Sinai, Ismailiya and Port Said, there were incidents of violence in some other governorates. In Sharqiya a bomb was thrown at an armoured police vehicle in the Abu Kabir area, wounding two police officers and two civilians who were transferred to the Abu Kabir and Zaqaziq University hospitals. In the same area the police intercepted a number of small demonstrations in which protestors chanted against the regime.

Elsewhere in Sharqiya a bomb was detonated below a wastewater pipeline outside the city of Belbis. Explosions were detonated beneath three electricity pylons in two Sharqiya villages and bombs were discovered inside an electricity booth behind Zaqaziq University stadium and in front of the Salah Salem hospital in Zaqaziq.

In Daqhaliya two people were apprehended after they threw Molotov cocktails at the railway control room in Talkha. In the same town a fire broke out next to a fertiliser factory when the contents of gasoline containers were ignited. The fire was quickly brought under control and the arsonists apprehended.

In Menoufiya, Fayoum and Giza police dispersed small demonstrations consisting of a few dozen participants.

The Ministry of Local Development’s report made it clear the Salafist Front and Muslim Brotherhood had failed to mobilise the “masses” of which they had boasted. No demonstration attracted more than 300 participants. The protests that did occur were confined to side streets and quickly dispersed by security forces.

The increasingly feeble turnout for Muslim Brotherhood and Salafist demonstrations is only to be expected given security clampdowns and popular anti-Islamist sentiment, says Adib Mounir, an expert on Islamist movements. But, he adds, the Muslim Brothers and Salafist youth will resurface, most probably on occasions such as the anniversary of the 25 January Revolution. They will also seek to capitalise on popular discontent, as happened following the acquittal of former president Hosni Mubarak and his minister of interior. No sooner were the rulings announced than the Muslim Brotherhood moved into action on their Facebook pages and Twitter accounts, seeking to tap into public anger triggered by the acquittals.

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