Egypt in turmoil

03-05-2012 10:04 PM

Nader Shukry

Watani International went to press as thousands of protestors converged on the Ministry of Defence in Abassiya, Cairo, and on Tahrir Square in what they promised would be

Watani International went to press as thousands of protestors converged on the Ministry of Defence in Abassiya, Cairo, and on Tahrir Square in what they promised would be a million-person demonstration. The declared purpose was to protest against Wednesday##s bloody attack on a Ministry of Defence sit-in, which saw at least 9 protestors killed. The sit-in had been staged by supporters of the Salafi Sheikh Hazem Abu-Ismail, a presidential candidate who was disqualified from running because his mother held a US citizenship in addition to her Egyptian nationality. The Constitutional Declaration stipulates that candidates for Egypt’s presidency should have been born to parents whose sole citizenship was the Egyptian. 
Violence erupted on Wednesday among the protestors; the military have said they had no part in it, and it was claimed by several news sources that the clashes had occurred between the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) and the Salafis who support Abu-Ismail. Other sources, however, claimed the assailants were unknown. Sheikh Mohamed al-Zawahiri, brother to al-Qaeda’s Ayman al-Zawahiri joined the protestors. He came accompanied by a retinue of men masked in black and raising the black jihad flags, and calling for jihad until the military hands over power to Islamists. He vowed the protestors would not leave till that happens.
The MB’s Freedom and Justice Party, the Salafi Nur party, as well as a number of political movements and parties including the Ghad, Hadara, and the Reform and Development parties, the al-Jamaa Al-Islamiya, the 6 April movement and MPs from both houses of parliament have said they will join the Friday demonstrations.
In a Thursday press conference, a ruling military council spokesman said, using strong language, that people have the right to protest peacefully but protests should take place in Tahrir Square, warning that the Defence Ministry represented a sovereign entity that, as such, were off-limits to protestors. The military would save no effort to defend it, he said.
Coptic movements out
The civil Coptic youth movements announced they would refrain from participation in Friday’s projected million-person demonstration, explaining that they refuse to get involved with political movements that “merely aim at seizing power, even if this means the shedding of innocent blood,” as in the recent Abbasiya deaths. The Coptic movements called for efforts to make the upcoming period work in favour of electing a civic president to whom the military would hand over power. The election of a civic president, the Coptic movements insisted, would work to achieve the 25 January 2011 Revolution objectives. 
“The Friday demonstration,” said Sherif Ramzy, coordinator of Copts With No Restrictions, “have been organised by the Muslim Brothers and the Salafis to serve their own interest in seizing power.” 
The Maspero Youth Union issued a statement in which it confirmed the right to peacefully protest without shedding Egyptian blood or threatening protestors lives. It said both the Military Council and Hazem Abu-Ismail bore the responsibility of the carnage in Abassiya.
WATANI International
6 May 2012
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