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

IS Militants Release 49 Turkish Hostages

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reports that no ransom was paid and no conditions accepted for the hostages' release; few details of the release are known More

Photogallery IS Attacks Send Thousands of Syrian Kurds Fleeing to Turkey

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 300 Kurdish fighters crossed into Syria from Turkey to defend a Kurdish area from attack by the Islamic militants More

Video Sierra Leone's Ebola Lockdown Continues

Thousands of health workers are going door to door in the West African country of 6 million, informing people of how to avoid Ebola, handing out soap More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’i
X
Jeff Seldin
September 20, 2014 10:28 PM
Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


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