News / Middle East

    Egyptians Stage March Protesting ‘Soft Military Coup’

    Egyptians march toward Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt, June 15, 2012.Egyptians march toward Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt, June 15, 2012.
    x
    Egyptians march toward Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt, June 15, 2012.
    Egyptians march toward Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt, June 15, 2012.
    Stephanie Figgins
    A small but passionate crowd of around 2,000 Egyptians marched Friday to Cairo’s Tahrir Square to express dissatisfaction with the two court rulings issued the day before dissolving the recently elected parliament and declaring Mubarak era official Ahmed Shafiq’s presidential bid constitutional. The court’s decisions cleared the way for the ruling military council to take over the parliament’s legislative powers. Observers say the rulings also positioned the perceived military-favored candidate, Shafiq, to win the executive, and threw into question the independence of the judiciary.

    Following afternoon prayers, members of pro-democracy movements, political parties, youth groups, and the campaign of former presidential contender and moderate Islamist Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh gathered in the Cairo neighborhood of Mohandiseen to march together under the slogan “No to the soft military coup”.

    Video of the march and protesters’ reactions by Davin Hutchins; follow @mevhutch

    Protesters carried anti-Shafiq and anti-military signs, and chanted “Egypt is a country, not a barracks,” and “Shafiq is Mubarak.” Reflecting the outrage many Egyptians are feeling toward Shafiq - a symbol of the old regime, and now, for many a symbol of the failed transition process - demonstrators tore down Shafiq election posters, hit them with their shoes, then laid them out on the street so that cars and motorcycles would run over them.

    Demonstrators demanded Shafiq’s disqualification from the presidential runoff election, and called for the creation of a presidential council to manage the affairs of the country - a last-ditch attempt to avoid the ‘lesser-of-two evils runoff,’ as it has been called by many Egyptians, between the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate, Mohamed Morsi, and Hosni Mubarak’s former prime minister, Shafiq.

    Sadeeqa Abu Saada lagged behind the march to stand on the median of a busy street, handing out flyers to passing cars that explained the need for a presidential council.  The flyer outlines a body made up of Hamdeen Sabbahi, the Nasserist who took third place in the first round, former presidential candidate Aboul Fotouh, socialist Abu Ezz el-Hariri, and Morsi - “just to have everyone involved,” she said.

    Others passed around stickers for the so-called Mubatelun campaign, which calls on voters to invalidate their ballots during Saturday’s and Sunday’s election, under the logic that enough invalidations would undercut the legitimacy of the poll.

    Images by Davin Hutchins & Yuli Weeks

    One demonstrator, Ahmed, 25, said he believes that the runoff election proves that there has been no change in Egypt. “Even [U.S. Secretary of State] Hillary Clinton said on CNN that there was a revolution in Tunisia and Libya, and there is one now in Syria. But in Egypt and in Yemen, there have only been reforms. The regime is just as it always was,” he said.

    “[The military council] thinks we’re idiots,” he added. “That when they change the person at the top, we’ll think there has been a regime change. But we’re not idiots.”

    Ahmed, who said he had lost several friends to clashes with the police over the past 18 months, voted for Aboul Fotouh in the first round. This weekend, he said he would cast his vote for Morsi. He emphasized, “I’m not convinced with the elections. I think it will go to Shafiq. But I’ll do what I can by voting for Morsi.”

    However, the outrage seemed to be confined to the small crowd of demonstrators - others were simply annoyed that the march was blocking traffic along the busy Qasr el-Nil bridge that connects Tahrir to Mohandiseen.

    “Few people are on the streets because of the mass media,” explained Ahmed. “And the military controls the mass media here. It distorts our image to the people, tells them that we are thugs who want to rob the country.”

    And the military has a powerful lever in its hands - security.

    Since January 28 of last year, the notorious day on which the police forces retreated from the streets, every day Egyptians have been craving security in a way almost nostalgic for the days under the heavy-handed Mubarak regime. Shafiq, who markets himself as the law-and-order candidate, plays well into those fears and desires, many observers note.

    Another demonstrator, Sadeeqa Abu Saada, attributed the rather small turnout to sheer exhaustion. “A lot of people share our feeling of rage,” she said. “But remember that it’s been almost two years. We’ve been out on the streets, many people have been hurt. So, some people are saving their energy for when they are sure -like when [the election results] are forged and Shafiq comes to power.”

    Despite the rationalizations for the low turnout that were given - the biased media, the lack of security, and exhaustion - the march called into question the usefulness of activists’ continued use of street politics to try to change the course of institutional politics.

    Abu Saada, who voted in the first round for leftist candidate Khaled Ali, who garnered just half of one percent of the vote, now says she believes the electoral process is rigged in the military’s favor. “I’m here because it’s all a farce,” she said. “The military will put Shafiq in power.”

    For the runoff, she intends to invalidate her vote but not immediately. She says she will wait until the second day of the runoff to go to the polls, concerned that ballot boxes unwatched overnight are vulnerable to tampering. “We don’t know what will happen during this dark night,” she said.

    Another demonstrator, Um Mohamed, was dressed in a long, black veil with a cloth band tied around her head that read “Down with military rule.” Like the others, she was against Shafiq, who she believes represents a return to the old regime. She said she plans to vote for Morsi, arguing that “the Muslim Brotherhood has always been with us in the revolution.”

    However, Abu Saada contested Brotherhood’s revolutionary credentials, calling them political opportunists who have aligned themselves with revolutionary forces when it was convenient, and abandoned them just as quickly.

    “The choice they put you between - the tyrants of the military and the tyrants of extremism - this is not the Tahrir, the utopia that we lived in for 18 days and after,” she said, referring to the turbulent beginnings of Egypt’s popular uprising.

    You May Like

    Former US Envoys Urge Obama to Delay Troop Cuts in Afghanistan

    Keeping troop levels up during conflict with both Taliban and Islamic State is necessary to support Kabul government, they say

    First Lady to Visit Africa to Promote Girls' Education

    Michele Obama will be joined by daughters and actresses Meryl Streep and Freida Pinto

    Video NYSE Analyst: Brexit Will Continue to Place Pressure on Markets

    Despite orderly pricing and execution strategy at the New York Stock Exchange, analyst explains added pressure on world financial markets is likely

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Unchartered Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Unchartered Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora