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Saturday, October 20, 2012

Egypt’s Friday pro-democracy protests in Tahrir Square

Egyptian protesters in Tahrir

Several thousand people marched today to Cairo’s iconic Tahrir Square to take a part on the demonstration organized by Egyptian secularists to protest the Muslim Brotherhood’s political domination.

Egypt’s liberal and leftists forces have been calling for organizing the Friday protest at the beginning of this week. Several marches have been planned for Friday after midday prayers and the main point of them is the protest against the attempts of Muslim Brotherhood to dominate the process of writing the new Constitution.

Demonstrators were protesting today against Muslim Brotherhood’s political domination and the recently revealed draft of Egypt’s future Constitution which they claim doesn’t represent the entire Egyptian society and is strongly influenced by Islamists’ ideas which the Brotherhood is trying to impose on the Egyptian society.

Nearly 30 different political parties and powers and several organizations took part in today’s Friday demonstration under the slogan “Egypt is for all Egyptians”. Among the rally’s participants were the newly established Constitution Party (founded by prominent pro-democracy leader Mohamed El Baradei), Egypt’s Current Party (also newly established political party founded by ex-presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabbahy), April 6th Youth Movement’s Democratic Front, Revolutionary Socialists, Free Egyptians party, Socialist Popular Alliance party, National Association for Change, the Nile Party, Egyptian Social Democratic party, the Peaceful Change Front, “No to Military Trials” campaign and other political parties, groups and movements and also different organizations and unions such as several Egypt’s human rights’ groups.

Egyptian protesters in Tahrir
Dozens of protesters gathered in Cairo’s Tahrir Square after the Friday midday prayers and hundreds more activists arrived later. They were chanting for the representative Constitution and social justice in Egypt. A lot of protesters have been holding the banners with the chants against Muslim Brotherhood and their political domination and attempts to influence the process of writing Egypt’s Constitution and also against the current Constituent Assembly which is tasked with the drafting of the state’s highest document and has recently represented the initial draft of the future Constitution which was strongly criticized by Egyptian secularists, leftists and liberals for failing to represent all the factions of Egyptian society and all the diversity of the country’s political spectrum.

Some of the protesters were holding the banners against Mohamed Badie, Muslim Brotherhood’s Supreme Guide, accusing him of “selling the Revolution”. Muslim Brotherhood generally was criticized and accused of being loyal and in favor of the old Mubarak regime. Egypt’s President Mohamed Morsy was accused by some protesters and activists of recreating Mubarak’s regime. The demonstrators have been also protesting against his policies and expressed their dissatisfaction with his political program. He is accused of failing to deliver on his promises during his first 100 days in office. Thus since June 2012 when Mohamed Morsy was sworn in as a country’s President Egypt witnessed a wave of protests and strikes. There were a lot of labor strikes with the workers and employees demanding the better working conditions, increasing their salaries and protecting their rights. Some of those protests have been dispersed violently by the security forces. We would remind here for example on the recently clashes between the Presidential guards and the protesters with the special needs during their peaceful sit-in in front of the Presidential palace.

Three marches starting from different districts in downtown Cairo headed to Tahrir after Friday prayers. Those marches were led by prominent revolutionary activists.

Egypt's Tahrir protesters
The first march and one of the biggest ones has started in the district of Sayeeda Zeinab in Old Cairo and was headed to Tahrir Square. This march was headed by prominent Egyptian activist Ahmed Harara who lost both of his eyes during the January 25 Revolution and Mohamed Mahmoud clashes. Protesters have been calling for social justice and representative Constitution which will protect and guarantee the rights for all the citizens of Egypt.

The second march was led by the prominent leftist activist Kamal Khalil and by Kamal Abu-Eita, the founder of Egypt’s first independent syndicate. The march started from Mohamed Mahmoud and headed also to Tahrir Square. The protesters have been chanting "free revolutionary Constitution written by all Egyptians" and "for the blood of the revolution's martyr's we'll start all over again".

The third march was led by the representatives of Egypt’s Social Democratic party and of the women’s movement Baheya Masr. There were protesting against the draft of the Constitution which could restrict the rights of women and also children and would change and undermine the position and status of Egyptian women. The activists have been protesting against the controversial Article 36 of the proposed Constitution’s draft which stipulates that the equality between the men and women should not violate the rules of Sharia. It is considered to be an attempt to limit the freedoms and rights of women. The hot debates over the possible lowering of the marriage age caused a lot of anger and protests too. Thus the demonstrators have been also holding the banners telling the children should enjoy their childhood and not get married. It’s worth mentioning here that Salafi representative in the Constituent Assembly proposed to lower the marriage age for girls to 9 years. But the current Constitution’s writing body rejected this proposal.

Generally the situation during today’s protests was calm and no serious or violent clashes were reported. There were only some small clashes happened between the pro-democracy protesters and some supporters of the Conference Party headed by Amr Moussa. The pro-democracy protesters were calling to them that Egypt doesn’t need the feloul (the remnants of the old Mubarak’s regime).