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Egypt’s Accountability Friday

Posted by seumasach on October 12, 2012

Muslim Brotherhood joins protest against it

Two protests will be held on Friday in Tahrir Square by two different sets of political forces, Islamists and non-Islamists, with two different sets of demands

Al-Ahram

11th October, 2012

 

Egyptian political parties and movements announced a couple of weeks ago that they will organise what they believe to be the first true million-man protest after the presidential elections in Egypt, uniting non-Islamist forces and political parties in Tahrir Square. Still, with the latest court verdict in the “Battle of the Camel” trial and calls from the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) and other Islamist parties for protesting in the same place, it seems there will be two protests with two sets of different demands.

 

The call to protest on 12 October 2012  was initially launched by liberal, leftist and nationalist parties right after the end of President Morsi’s 100 days as what they called “Accountability Friday”. The protest will  include several marches from different starting points in Cairo and Giza that will meet by afternoon in Tahrir Square. Its principal demand according to a joint statement published on Tuesday is a constituent assembly representing all Egyptians; it also stresses setting minimum and maximum wages and a decrease in the price of basic commodities.

The parties, groups and movements who initially announced they would be participating in the protest are: the National Association for Change, the Popular Egyptian current, the Constitution Party, the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, the 6 April Movement, the Democratic Movement, the Democratic Revolutionary alliance (the Egyptian Socialist Party, the Egyptian Communist Party, the Socialist Popular Alliance Party, Al Tagammu Party, The Workers and Peasants Party, the Socialist Youth Union, the Popular Democratic Movement, the Mina Daniel Movement, the Popular Revolutionary Movement, the for Justice and Freedom and the Peaceful Front for Change.

The Egyptian Democratic Workers Conference, an umbrella for a number of independent trade unions established after the ouster of Mubarak in February 2011, also issued a statement of other demands related more specifically to workers rights, calling for a march to Tahrir square at noon.

Independent activists also announced their support and participation. Prominant activist and blogger Alaa Abdel Fatah told Ahram Online that he is participating in the protest “because I want to protest the continuing brutality of police forces against civilians in police stations, which goes on just as before the revolution”. In the past few weeks there were reports accusing police forces of torturing civilians, sometimes to death, in police stations across the country.

These original protests were not welcomed or supported by the MB, members of which mocked and attacked their instigators, describing their intentions as an attempt to subvert the progress President Mohamed Morsi has been making against the will of the people who had elected him. But after the court ruling acquitting all 24 defendants in the “Battle of the Camel” trial, the MB called on its members across the country to rally against the verdict starting on Thursday – in order to furnish President Morsi with public support for as yet unknown decisions regarding the judiciary in Egypt. The acting president of the Freedom and Justice Party and leading member of the MB Essam Al-Arian also called on members of the party to join the protests. “I call on all the young members of Freedom and Justice to participate in the marches planned on Thursday with the people and the million man protest to achieve justice and retribution,” he said on twitter.

The swift decision of the MB to hit the streets at the same time and in the same place as non-Islamist forces have been thought of as an attempt to sabotage an essentially ant-Morsi and anti-Freedom and Justice demonstration. Worth mentioning in this regard is that the Constitution Party officially instructed its members on Thursday not to use anti-Morsi or anti-MB slogans and chants, on the premise that the protest is not about groups or persons but rather demands. Few have been hiding their criticism, however. Ahmed Khairy, for example, spokesperson for the liberal Free Egyptians Party, wondered on twitter how it is that the MB is calling for protests when they are no longer in the opposition. “The call of the MB to protest tomorrow is laughable; the MB should realise that they are now ruling the country, we are the ones who should make demands and they are the ones who should implement them if they want to.”

Nor is the MB only Islamist power heading to Tahrir on Friday. Al Gama’a Al Islamiyaa announced, in a statement issued on Thursday, that its members will join the protests in Tahrir Square and other public squares in Egypt. The group  demands re-trials for the murderers of the revolutionaries based on the evidence found by the fact-finding committee formed by the president. The famous Islamist group also demanded that the officials responsible for hiding evidence in the case resign from their posts. The Islamist Al Wasat Party also called on its members and supporters to protest on Friday in order to put an end to what the party believes to be “complicity with the revolutionaries’ murderers”. The party demanded that President Morsi should issue the new law of the judiciary authority hoping that it would pave the road towards an independent judiciary system.

For its part the 6 April Youth movement-Ahmed Maher front announced that it would be participating in the Thursday and Friday protests, contrary to its initial decision not to participate. In media statements earlier this week, Mahmoud Afify, spokesperson for 6 April, said that the movement would not participate in the protests of 12 October even as it fully respects the decision of those movements and powers protesting. “We held an in-house poll to find out if the members are ready to participate in the protest and the results came against the participation,” he said, adding that the current time is not ideal for holding protests against the government and the regime. This position had enraged activists who already suspected 6 April was in the employ of the MB and the president. In their defense Mohamed Adel, former spokesperson for 6 April and leading member, said on twitter, “We want to make it clear that the MB began to mobilise their members only after of 6 April Youth movement called on its members to join the Friday protests and demand the purging of both the judiciary and the Ministry of Interior”.

Expecting a high turnout of protesters and preparing for a big day and the possible return of huge protests to Tahrir Square, the Ministry of Health announced on Thursday that it will send over 40 ambulances there.  Anything is possible.

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