Dozens of Egyptians gathered on Friday, 21 September, in front of the French Embassy, which is located in Giza, to protest against the publication of the scandalous cartoons mocking Islamic Prophet Mohamed in the French weekly satirical magazine “Charlie Hebdo”. The protesters gathered to denounce those cartoons and to express their position regarding this situation which is an insult of their religious feelings. This situation is tenser on the wave of the protests against anti-Islam film “Innocence of Muslims” produced in USA.
The protests started after midday, when the protesters gathered in Cairo’s iconic Tahrir Square and headed to Giza where the Embassy of France is located. Ayman Nour was coordinating the protests and claimed that Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy did not do enough and didn’t take any decisive measures in response to the insults of Muslims.
The majority of the protesters said they attended the demonstrations on their own behalf and didn’t belong to any specific political group or power. Although most of them were allegedly Islamists, with most of the protesters wearing traditional Islamic clothes. In addition to that a lot of Christians participated in the Friday rally too together with Muslims. They said the people of Egypt have to be united now, especially under such circumstances when such materials as the controversial anti-Islam film or the French cartoons appear. They claim that those who are responsible for the producing of those materials are trying to increase the sectarian tensions within the Egyptian society, what is unacceptable in the country.
The protesters were chanting some Islamic slogans and were also calling for Egyptians to wake up and to take some actions when their religion is abused. They were also waving the black flags with the words of Islamic creed “There is no God but Allah, and Mohamed is his Prophet”, as it was during the anti-US rallies sparked as a response to the film which offended Muslims and their Prophet.
The protesters during the Friday’s rally claimed the Western countries are trying to provoke the Muslims with publishing of such controversial materials, especially on the wave of the massive protests against the offensive movie in the whole Islamic world. Some of the protesters and groups taking part in the rally were even calling for boycotting France if no decisive actions will be taken by the French authorities.
It is also worth mentioning here that the joint Egyptian-French team of lawyers will work together to investigate the case of publishing the controversial cartoons and to take actions against the French satirical magazine which published those materials. It was stated by the Muslim Brotherhood’s lawyer Abdel-Moneim Abdel-Maqsood.
Meanwhile Egyptian Islamist forces were divided during the Friday’s protests. Muslim Brotherhood’s political wing Freedom and Justice Party, Salafi Al-Nour Party and also Asala Party decided to refrain from the protests and were calling for the peaceful actions to voice the demands and to express the feelings of the people. They urged those participating in the protests to avoid the violence and attacking the diplomatic missions and any other buildings. Islamist forces feared the continuation of the same scenario of the massive protests with the clashes at the US Embassy which took place last week over the scandalous film “Innocence of Muslims”. At the same time some hard-line Salafi parties and forces including Salafi Front, Hazemoun and Jama’a Al-Islamiyya have been called for Friday’s demonstrations to protest the cartoons published in the French magazine.
French Foreign Ministry announced before they will close all the consulates and diplomatic missions in Egypt and in other 19 Middle East countries along with all the schools and cultural institutes and centers connected to the Embassy over the possible protests and clashes. All the scheduled events were cancelled, and the diplomatic missions suspended their work till Sunday. The consulates will work only to serve the French citizens in case of emergency, according to the French Ministry’s statement.
In addition to that the French Embassy made a request to the Egyptian authorities to increase the police presence and the security measures at the diplomatic missions.
Egyptian Central Security Forces and police troops were deployed on Friday to the building of the French Embassy stepping up the security. They surrounded the embassy which is situated in Giza and blocked the roads leading to the building if the French diplomatic mission in attempt to prevent the protesters from reaching the embassy territory and building.
Giza governor told the reporters the streets were closed due to security measure and that they will reopen after the protests will be finished. He also called for the peaceful demonstrations and avoiding the clashes and violence.
German Embassy in its turn has been also stepping up the security following the debates in Germany whether to allow or to forbid the public screening of the controversial anti-Islam film “Innocence of Muslims” in the country.