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Saturday, August 25, 2012

Egypt’s Friday anti-Muslim Brotherhood demonstration and its impact

Friday's anti-Brotherhood's protests

Around 3,000 demonstrators gathered on Friday, 24 August, in front of Presidential Palace in Heliopolis, Cairo, protesting against the so called “Brotherhoodisation” of Egypt and Morsy’s rule. Among the protesters were liberals, supporters of Egypt’s military and activists who were calling for an end of the rule of Muslim Brotherhood and Mohamed Morsy, the first democratically elected President of Egypt since the country’s long standing leader Hosni Mubarak was ousted after January 25 Revolution in 2011.

The calls for the organizing the nationwide protests against Muslim Brotherhood’s rule had been spreading in Egypt via social networking during the last weeks. Tawfiq Okasha, controversial Egyptian public figure, and Mohamed Abou-Hamed, former MP, were among the first public figures calling for the protests.

The anti-Brotherhood sentiments have been building in Egypt after several latest key-decisions made by Mohamed Morsy and some developments in the country. Thus, the fears over Muslim Brotherhood’s total control over all the state’s institutions led to the protests of some Egyptian journalists, reporters, columnists and writers, after Morsy’s administration’s attempts to fully control state-owned publications and media sources.

For example, the latest arrest and detention of Egyptian journalist and editor-in-chief of the private newspaper Al-Dostour Islam Afify provoked the wave of anger and criticism in Egyptian society. Islam Afify was accused of publication the false information and insulting Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy. The issue of Al-Dostour was confiscated, and Islam Afify was put on trial. After Morsy’s yesterdays decision which cancelled the ruling about the temporally detention of journalists Afify was released.

Anti-Brotherhood protests
Another example is the case of the controversial public figure Tawfiq Okasha, who also faced the charges of insulting the President of Egypt and inciting violence against him. Okasha’s Faraeen television channel was suspended for a month.

The death of 16 Egyptian border guards on 5 August and the following developments also left a lot of Egyptians angry, especially after Morsy retired the high ranking military officials. Despite the previous calls against SCAF in Egyptian society, the latest move made by Morsy was considered by many being another attempt of Muslim Brotherhood to monopolize the power in the country. The protests among Egyptians transformed into anti-Brotherhood’s revolts.

Friday’s protests were expected to be massive, but they were attended by several thousand people only, mostly liberals, activists and military supporters. There were several marches organized across Cairo and in some another Egypt’s governorates and cities. The Presidential Palace in Heliopolis and district Misr El-Gedid were the focal point of the planned demonstrations. Another demonstration was heading from the Memorial of the Unknown Soldier in Nasr City district.

Egypt's security during the Friday anti-Brotherhood's
Heavy security was present in Cairo’s streets during the day. The roads leading to the Presidential Palace were blocked, with the traffic regulated by security officers. Dozens of security trucks were also stationed around the palace and in the neighboring streets, with hundreds of state’s security troops. The streets where the palace is situated were blocked with the barbed wire. But despite the tense atmosphere in the city the situation around the palace remained calm after the first demonstrations started.

The protests were planned to start after the Friday noon prayers, but only the journalists and security forces were present in the area at the midday, with the protests started later, at around 2 p.m. Egyptian time.

Security measures stopped the protesters from entering the palace streets, but later, thousands of protesters arrived from Abbasiya Square and Madinet Nasr.
The demonstrations were led by former MP Mohamed Abou-Hamed. The numbers of protesters notably decreased in the evening.

Egypt's security forces blocking the streets close to the Presidential
palace in Cairo
The protesters presence outside Cairo was limited, despite the calls for the nationwide protests in Egypt. Thus, some violent clashes erupted between the residents and the anti-Brotherhood protesters in the coastal city of Alexandria. Mansoura, the Nile-Delta city between Cairo and Alexandria, also witnessed only small protests.

During the Friday’s demonstration the protesters were holding the banners and Egyptian flags and were chanting against Muslim Brotherhood and Mohamed Morsy, who was called a traitor of Egypt’s revolution and accused of trying to seize and monopolize power in all the sectors of Egyptian political spectrum. Morsy was also accused of not being loyal to Egyptian people and defending the interests of the Muslim Brotherhood and its political arm FJP (Freedom and Justice Party) rather than making the people of Egypt his first priority. The people chanted “Down with the rule of Muslim Brotherhood and Morsy” and “We want a civil state, not a Brotherhood’s state”. The main demand of the protesters was an end of Muslim Brotherhood’s domination in all the spheres of Egyptian political life.

Protesters holding the banners "Leave"
There was also anger among the protesters over Mohamed Morsy’s decision to free some Islamist prisoners, while a lot of revolutionary activists still remain detained and stand on military trial, despite Morsy’s promises to free all the revolutionary prisoners and stop the practice of military trials for civilians. Almost nothing from Morsy’s promises made during his election’s campaign was fulfilled.   

Morsy was also criticized by the protesters for attempting to overrule the decision of HCC (High Constitutional Court) to dissolve the Parliament and to let the Islamists to impose their impact on the process of writing Egypt’s new Constitution. Demonstrators were calling for the “transparent democracy”, as they want to know the reasons standing behind the decisions made by President and Egypt’s authorities.

Muslim Brotherhood was also accused of showing their disrespect to another political parties and forces of Egypt. There were also the calls for the bigger protests against Mohamed Morsy and Muslim Brotherhood during the next months.

Protesters during Friday's anti-Brotherhood's rally
Some protestors even called for immediate dissolution of Muslim Brotherhood and FJP for lying and using religion to gain more support.

There were also some reports about the clashes happened close to Tahrir Square in Cairo. MENA said Cairo’s hospitals received four people injured during the clashes. They were reportedly shot by rubber bullets in the area close to Tahrir Square. Later a few clashes broke out between the protesters and the supporters of Morsy and Muslim Brotherhood.
Egypt’s Ministry of Health reported there were ten people injured during the Friday protests, and four among them were hospitalized.

The demonstrations on Friday, 24 August, were not that massive as it was expected. Only a few thousand protesters attended them, and the rally didn’t have a huge impact on the Egyptian political situation, but it signaled about the important changes within the Egyptian society, with more vocal dissatisfaction with the rule of Islamists.