News / Middle East

Egypt’s Second City Tense Ahead of Leaderless Protests

An image made from video shows police firing tear gas at supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi in Alexandria, Egypt, Aug. 14, 2013.
An image made from video shows police firing tear gas at supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi in Alexandria, Egypt, Aug. 14, 2013.
Heather Murdock
The volatile port city of Alexandria has long been a stronghold of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, but now - like the rest of the country - it is divided between Brotherhood followers and supporters of the military. Dozens of people have died in clashes in Alexandria in recent weeks. Brotherhood protesters vow they will be out on the streets again this Friday, though they intend to demonstrate more quietly than usual to avoid battles with police and opponents.
 
In some ways, Alexandria is as it has always been. Waves from the Mediterranean crash against rocks next to the main road by the sea. Couples sit quietly talking as they watch the water.  
 
What’s different now is the atmosphere of fear. At an apartment in a residential neighborhood we spoke to Amira, an activist we first met in Cairo, near the Rabaa al-Adiweye mosque, at a rally demanding the reinstatement of Mohamed Morsi as president.
 
As her nephew studied the Quran with a tutor on an outside balcony, Amira admitted her hopes for a resolution of Egypt's national divide are fading. We're inside the apartment, because using microphones and camera gear in public raises suspicions.
 
Amira said almost every night, she marches with protesters in small groups. Everyone is careful to avoid major roads and squares where the army patrols. On Friday, rallies are planned in both Alexandria and Cairo. With most of the Brotherhood's leaders either in jail or in hiding, the rallies are organized by rank-and-file protesters.
 
“The title for the protest for this week: 'The people lead their own revolution," she said. "The people lead their own revolution because all of the leaders are in prison.'”
 
Amira said she is not a Muslim Brotherhood member, but supports the protests because Morsi was elected and she believes the military had no right to depose him nearly two months ago.

Egypt's military leaders said they acted in response to mass anti-Morsi demonstrations that had millions of people out on the streets in late June and early July. The military said the Brotherhood has been stockpiling weapons, and it blames the Islamist group for inciting the violence that has followed Morsi's ouster - clashes that have killed more than a thousand people during the past two weeks.
 
Down the street at a noisy seaside café near a military office, Mohammed, a former activist, sat with an Egyptian photographer, enjoying a shisha pipe [hookah]. The two have removed their Facebook profile photographs, replacing them with solid black squares - a symbol of their deep disappointment in both sides.

Mohammed spoke over the noise into a recorder casually left on the table along with our cellphones:

"I think for me it should be about human rights - to be a liberal country," he opined. "And that means more education. Because many people now aren't educated."
 
He added that people in Egypt have become so polarized, at least in part, because media reports are so one-sided.
 
According to the government, the foreign press in Egypt has been shamelessly publishing pro-Brotherhood propaganda. The Brotherhood says the Egyptian press has been shamelessly publishing pro-military propaganda.
 
Supporters of both sides - the military and the Brotherhood - say they have the same goal. They want a free, economically prosperous and democratic country - something better than they had under the 30-year reign of Hosni Mubarak, who was toppled in 2011 by mass public protests.  
 
 “We have no guarantee it will not become [again] like the time [of] ... Hosni Mubarak," Amira said."Everything is false and people can see it is not right. They maybe will close the gate for the place for the [voting] and they will come out with the results.”
 
Last week, Mubarak was allowed to leave prison and placed under house arrest - leading some activists to say the revolution is over, because the dictator appears to be walking away from his crimes. Others on both sides of the conflict say Egypt's revolution has only just begun.

You May Like

Photogallery US to Send 3,000 Troops to Liberia in Expanded Ebola Effort

update At US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Obama is to announce troop deployment, other details of US plans to fight Ebola outbreak More

Hong Kong Democracy Calls Spread to Macau

Macau and Hong Kong are China’s two 'special administrative regions' which gives them a measure of autonomy More

Kenyan Coastal Town Struggles With Deadly June Attacks

Three months after al-Shabab militants allegedly attacked their town, some Mpeketoni residents are still bitter, question who was really behind the assaults More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Communityi
X
September 16, 2014 2:06 PM
Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid