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

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid