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 One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years 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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs