Squares and public places all over Egypt have broken into festive jubilation following a statement some four hours ago by the Commander-in-Chief of the Egyptian Armed Forces Colonel General Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi
Squares and public places all over Egypt have broken into festive jubilation following a statement some four hours ago by the Commander-in-Chief of the Egyptian Armed Forces Colonel General Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi. In his statement, which was aired by State TV, Sisi said that Egypt’s rival political forces have a 48-hour opportunity to reach a resolution of the current crisis, or face a military “road map that will not exclude anyone.” He demanded that the country##s politicians, meaning the Islamist President Mursi and his non-Islamist opponents, should “meet the demands of the people”. He described the mass protests of yesterday, Sunday 30 June, as “an unprecedented expression of public will”. But he made it clear the army would not get involved in politics or government.
‘Dialogue’ with Mursi?
The statement was met with unalloyed rejoicing by the protestors all over Egypt, who took it to mean the army will force Mursi out.
The Islamists, however, as expressed by one of their leading figures Mahmoud al-Beltagui, took it to mean the army is supporting them.
A week before the June 30 protests, Sisi threatened that the army would intervene if there was bloodshed, vowed the military will not allow any “attack on the will of the people” and urged Egyptians to seek consensus instead of infighting.
Sisi’s statement today came after the mass nationwide protest yesterday 30 June, a date that marks one year since Muhammad Mursi was sworn in as president, to demand the ouster of the Islamist president. The millions who spilled into the streets were reported by the media to far exceed the numbers who protested against the former president Mubarak in 2011 and led to his stepping down.
But Mursi remained apparently nonchalant and his spokesman sounded as though the President was in no way threatened. He announced the President planned to work no changes, and that the only answer to the protests would be ‘dialogue’.
Senior Brotherhood official Essam al-Erian sounded upbeat on Facebook: “There’s no alternative to unconditional dialogue to reach an understanding about forthcoming parliamentary elections.”
Since about every person and group among the Egyptian opposition has experienced one way or another that ‘dialogue’ with Mursi amounts to no more than conciliatory rhetoric which fails to translate into anything at all on the ground, there##s no reason to believe it will be any different this time. The leaders of the 22 million-strong—the number of signatures gathered to demand the ouster of Mursi, the declaration of the head of the Supreme Constitutional Court as president, and early presidential elections to elect a new president—protest movement, Tamarud (Rebel) replied that they would not accept half-measures.
Copts among the dead
While the demonstrations on Sunday were mostly peaceful and festive in mood, there was scattered street fighting. Security sources said 16 people died and 781 were wounded. The dead included three Copts: the 20-year-old Abanoub Adel from Assiut was shot to death; as were the 40-year-old Wagih Rushdy Awad who was resident in Cairo but whose hometown is Minya in Upper Egypt; and Nardine Maurice, 25, from Alexandria. Whereas both Adel and Awad were shot while they took part in the demonstrations, Maurice was shot as she stood in the balcony of her home.
MB offices stormed
Offices of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), the group to which Mursi belongs, were stormed and ransacked by protestors. Their headquarters in the Cairo district of Muqattam were looted of papers, documents, furniture, office equipment, and of stocks of the basic commodities such as oil and sugar which the group uses to bribe the poorer individuals to support them. The looters later distributed these commodities and much of the ransacked items to the poor men who act as porters or guards for the nearby buildings. The papers, documents and books were kept to hand to the relevant authorities. The building itself was set on fire, as were other MB offices across the country.
MB leaders announced the attack against them would not go unanswered; they vowed to retaliate.
Mursi’s supporters have staged counter rallies, but Sunday’s anti-Mursi protests eclipsed his 25,000 strong loyalists’ gathering in front of Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque in the east Cairo district of Nasr City.
Leave, or else…
Late last night, Tamarud gave Mursi a day to quit or face civil disobedience.
“We give Muhammad Mursi until 5:00pm on Tuesday 2 July to leave power, allowing State institutions to prepare for early presidential elections,” Tamarud said in a statement on its website.
Otherwise, “Tuesday, 5:00 pm will be the beginning of a complete civil disobedience campaign.”
Mursi’s opponents accuse him of concentrating power in Islamist hands and of sending the economy into freefall, while his supporters say he inherited many problems from a corrupt regime, and that he should be allowed to complete his term which ends in 2016.
The Sunday protests brought on resignations by four cabinet ministers: Hatem Begato, minister of State for legal and parliamentary affairs; Atef Helmy, minister of communications; Khaled Fahmy, minister of State for environmental affairs; and tourism minister Hisham Zaazou.
Several governors either resigned their posts, among them Sohag governor Yehia Mkheimar; or were forced by the people to leave as in case of the Alexandria governor Mohamed Abbas and his Islamist deputy Hassan al-Brince; and Gharbiya governor Ahmed al-Beili.
Some nine MPs who belong to the Coptic and secular blocs in the Shura Council also resigned. The Shura is the upper house of Egypt’s parliament and is charged with legislation in the absence of a house of representatives, the lower house of parliament.
Earlier last week, Pope Tawadros II had posted on his Twitter account a tweet calling upon Copts to participate in the national effort. “Egypt needs all Egyptians,” he tweeted, “to think together, talk with one another, and express our sentiments towards our homeland. No violence, no assault, no bloodshed. Pray for Egypt.”
Also on Twitter, Secretary-General of the Holy Synod of the Coptic Orthodox Church Anba Raphail wrote: “Religion is too sublime to exploit in politics. Egypt is too dear to allow its division. And Egyptians are too smart to be led on by false rumours. Pray for our country.”
Sunday morning saw churches in Egypt all pray for Egypt during Holy Mass.
Following the Sunday protests, the Bishopric of Minya and Abu-Qurqas posted a statement on its website in which it applauded the peaceful demonstrations, the solidarity of the people, and their determination. “They marched on, men and women, young and old, some on wheelchairs, some marching in silence, joining in the unanimity.
“We are proud to be Egyptians. We pray for Egypt.”
Baby girl Tamarud
An Egyptian woman who gave birth to a baby girl has named her daughter “Tamarud”. Ayman Zain, a doctor working for a field hospital in Tahrir Square, helped the opposition supporter give birth to Tamarud Mohammed at dawn in Tahrir Square on June 30.
“God bless the Revolution’s new born baby ‘Tamarud,’”read the opposition group’s website. Great name, great timing and a great cause! 22 million signatories can’t be wrong.
1 July 2013