News / Middle East

Tension Rises in Egypt Between Government, Protesters

Egyptian protesters capture two of some 30 men armed with knives and sticks who attempted to storm the protesters' tent camp set up in Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt, July 12, 2011
Egyptian protesters capture two of some 30 men armed with knives and sticks who attempted to storm the protesters' tent camp set up in Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt, July 12, 2011

Multimedia

Audio
Al Pessin

Young people in a tent city at the center of Cairo's Tahrir Square chanted a song from the 1950s, with words updated to refer to their revolution, saying they want to return Egypt to what they see as its former glory.

Tension rose in Egypt Tuesday with a tough statement from the interim government and a march on a main government building where the prime minister and his Cabinet have their offices.

Jeffrey Grieco, International Relief and Development, spoke with Susan Yackee about his organization’s work in post-Mubarak Egypt.

Young people in a tent city at the center of Cairo's Tahrir Square chanted a song from the 1950s, with words updated to refer to their revolution, saying they want to return Egypt to what they see as its former glory.  While they sang, people of all ages flowed through civilian checkpoints into the square in response to a call by activist groups for yet another large protest.

The people complain that the ruling military council and Prime Minister Essam Sharaf are not moving fast enough to implement reforms and to put former regime members and security officers on trial.

On Monday, the prime minister promised to reshuffle his Cabinet and appoint new regional governors by Sunday. He said he will resign if he does not achieve that.

Later, the government announced that the Cabinet reshuffle had begun, with the resignation of the prime minister's deputy, and said meetings were under way to decide on further changes.

Also, an Egyptian court on Tuesday convicted a former prime minister and two Cabinet ministers of corruption and sentenced them to up to 10 years in jail. The three served under ex-President Hosni Mubarak who also faces corruption-related charges and resigned in February.

At Tahrir Square, many protesters see the government's moves as too little, too late.

In a tent at the middle of the square Tuesday, Abdullah Noufal, the communications director of one of the main protest groups, the April Sixth Movement, says he has heard promises like the prime minister's latest one for months.  He said it is time for real action.  Noufal added that this was a popular revolution, not a military coup, and he will stay on the square until the country's new military rulers meet the protesters' demands.  And he is not alone.  At least several hundred others are living around him in the makeshift encampment, shaded by bed sheets strung between trees and light poles.

The relaxed atmosphere in the camp was disrupted early Tuesday when, protesters say, about 30 men attacked the area, wielding knives and sticks.  They injured several people before being repulsed by the protesters.  It was not clear who the men were.

While tension on the square is rising, the interim government also appears to be losing patience.

In a tough statement broadcast on national television, and designed to discourage people from blocking government buildings as planned, interim council member Major General Mohsen al-Fangari warned activists not to deviate from their peaceful approach or do anything that would harm the national interest.

Wearing his military uniform, shaking his finger and speaking emphatically, al-Fangari said the council will not give up its role until after elections, scheduled for later this year.

He also said the council had made a move to address one of the protesters' demands, starting work on a statement of principles that will guide the process of writing a new constitution.

At the English-language newspaper Daily News Egypt, chief editor Rania al-Malky understands the protesters' impatience on some issues, but also says they should continue to be patient on others.

"When it comes to the trials of police officers, there is a legitimate complaint there," al-Malky noted.  "But when it comes to demanding that the trials in general be sped up, when it comes to the big demands like social justice, I think people just need to be a little bit more patience.  There needs to be a realization that things will not happen and change overnight."

Al-Malky says the government has created a "crisis of confidence" by moving too slowly in the nearly five months since it took power, leaving many people unwilling to trust officials to deliver on their promises.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.

Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Video British Fighters on Frontline of Islamic State Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Pakistan's Political Turmoil Again Shines Spotlight on Military

Thousands of protesters calling for PM Sharif to step down continue protests in front of parliament, as critics fear political impasse could spur another military coup More

Photogallery Ebola Quarantines Spark Anxiety in Liberian Capital

Food prices rise sharply as residents attempting purchases clash with security forces, leaving one person dead 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.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid