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

Pundits Split Over Long-Term US Role in Afghanistan

Security pact remains condition for American presence beyond 2014; deadline criticized More

US Eyes Islamic State Threat

Officials warn that IS could pose a threat to US homeland More

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Moscow says Russian troops crossed into Ukrainian territory by mistake More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocksi
X
George Putic
August 25, 2014 4:00 PM
How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that were eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports from the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where one band is bringing Yiddish tango to an American audience.
Video

Video Peace Returns to Ferguson as Community Tries to Heal

Thousands of people nationwide are expected to attend funeral services Monday in the U.S. Midwestern city of St. Louis, Missouri, for Michael Brown, the unarmed African-American teenager who was fatally shot by a white police officer August 9 in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson. The shooting touched off days of violent demonstrations there, resulting in more than 100 arrests. VOA's Chris Simkins reports from Ferguson where the community is trying to move on after weeks of racial tension.
Video

Video Meeting in Minsk May Hinge on Putin Story

The presidents of Russia and Ukraine are expected to meet face-to-face Tuesday in Minsk, along with European leaders, for talks on the situation in Ukraine. Political analysts say the much welcomed dialogue could help bring an end to months of deadly clashes between pro-Russia separatists and Ukrainian forces in the country's southeast. But much depends on the actions of one man, Russian President Vladimir Putin. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Artists Shun Russia's Profanity Law

Russia in July enacted a law threatening fines for publicly displayed profanity in media, films, literature, music and theater. The restriction, the toughest since the Soviet era, aims to protect the Russian language and culture and has been welcomed by those who say cursing is getting out of control. But many artists reject the move as a patronizing and ineffective act of censorship in line with a string of conservative morality laws. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video British Fighters on Frontline of ISIS Information War

Security services are racing to identify the Islamic State militant who beheaded U.S. journalist James Foley in Syria. The murderer spoke English on camera with a British accent. It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for the Islamic State, also called ISIL or ISIS, alongside thousands of other foreign jihadists. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from the center of the investigation in London.

AppleAndroid