Egyptians had geared themselves for a Friday of violence. Friday 28 November was earmarked by the Islamists in Egypt for what they termed “The Uprising of the Muslim Youth … The Islamic Revolution”, an uprising that would see them lift copies of the Qur’an and call for a Muslim State that would fully implement Islamic sharia (Islamic law). It was to be a “battle for [Islamic] identity, according to the Salafi Front which had initiated the call for the revolution and brazenly threatened to carry arms and attack vital establishments. The call had been met with support by the Muslim Brotherhood—now designated a terrorist group in Egypt—and Gamaa Islamiya, as well as other Islamist groups that call for violence, and was strongly endorsed in Hamas-controlled Gaza; Hamas is an offshoot of the MB. The demonstrators were to call for the downfall of President Abdel-Fattah al-Sis and his secular regime currently ruling Egypt, and the reinstatement of the MB Islamist regime of overthrown president Muhammad Mursi.
In anticipation of violence that might have spun out of control, the police had enlisted the help of the military to secure all vital establishments, and had issued vocal warnings that they would fire live in case of any attempt at disrupting order or violating the law. Egyptians were asked to stay at home in order to avoid being caught in any crossfire.
A day like any other
Friday 28 November, however, passed without any major or extraordinary event. Egyptians heeded the call to stay at home; the streets were almost empty.
Even though the day began with news of an army brigadier general killed and two soldiers wounded when gunmen in an unmarked car opened fire in a parking lot in the east of Cairo—one of the wounded later died—there were only a few sporadic outbursts of violence nationwide throughout the day. A civilian was killed and 28 injured. The Islamist gatherings were very poorly attended; Reuters reported a mere 100 protestors in the largest incidence of violence which occurred in the Cairo district of Matariya, and the Interior Ministry put the number at no more than 400. Outside Cairo, violence was again very limited, with the Interior Ministry declaring it had thwarted 10 planned bombings. “Altogether,” a young man commented, “this is no more than what we see every day at the hands of terrorist Islamists.”
The Salafi Front later in the day reneged on its call for violence and asked the protestors to be “adhere to their peacefulness”.
As the day drew to an end, Egyptians realised the ‘Islamic revolution’ had definitely failed, and took to the streets in jubilation. The widespread sentiment was that the real size of the Islamists was finally exposed real numbers; they can no longer lay claim to having any significant popular backing. Egyptians, among whom a wide majority of some 85 per cent are Muslim, had voted with their feet against political Islam.
Following the growing Islamist influence in the wake of the Arab Spring uprising in January 2011, Egyptians had decided to give the Islamists a chance and, in June 2012, elected a MB president. The disastrous culling of democracy and systematic whittling of Egyptian identity that followed, with the aim of making Egypt part of a pan-world Islamic caliphate, led to the massive 33 million-strong Egyptian revolution on 30 June 2013. The military responded by backing the people and overthrowing the president on 3 July 2013. Ever since, the MB and their Islamist supporters have waged a war of vicious terrorism against Egypt.
Despite the resounding failure of the so-called Islamic revolution last Friday, and the near-empty Egyptian streets, the Qatari al-Jazeera aired old videos of protest in Egypt and insisted it was taking place in Cairo on 28 November 2014. The channel claimed that demonstrations were ongoing in several Egyptian towns calling for “freedom and the downfall of the [current secular] regime”. The MB leading figure Amr Darrag issued a statement in which he congratulated the Muslim youth on their epic effort, to which the TV anchor Youssef al-Husseini replied in his al-Saada al-Muhtaramoum on OnTV: “What congratulations? Shame on you! The number of reporters covering the events was twice that of protestors.”
Since the ‘Islamic revolution’ had been touted so belligerently and arrogantly by Islamists, its failure predictably brought on the legendary scathing sarcasm of Egyptians in full force. Friday evening saw the online social media chockfull of cartoons and quips leering at the so-called revolution. “Looks like the revolution was just ‘a family affair’ with no outsiders invited,” quipped one blogger. Another posted: “Hey, it was there all right! But only the believers could see it—through faith;” and yet another advised: “Just press ‘restart’, it might work.”
29 November 2014