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

Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Seen as a potential driver of recovery, Cairo’s plan to expand waterway had been raising hopes to give country much needed economic boost More

Ebola Maternity Ward in Sierra Leone First of its Kind

Country already had one of world's highest maternal mortality rates before Ebola arrived, virus has added even more complications to health care More

Malaysia Flight 370 Disappearance Ruled Accident

Aircraft disappeared on March 8, 2014; with ruling, families of 239 passengers and crew can now seek compensation from airline More

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.
Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Productioni
X
George Putic
January 29, 2015 9:43 PM
The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Production

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Crowded Republican Presidential Field Off to Early Start for 2016

It seems early, but the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign is already heating up. Though no one has officially announced a candidacy, several potential Republican contenders have been busy speaking to conservative groups about making a White House run next year. Many of the possible contenders are critical of the Obama administration’s foreign policy record. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid