The Tamarod (Rebellion) campaign released a controversial statement on state television on Thursday calling for all Egyptians to form neighbourhood watches to protect their houses, mosques and churches.
The statement came in light of plans by supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi to go on nationwide marches against the forcible dispersal of the Rabaa Al-Adaweya and Al-Nahda pro-Morsi sit-ins.
“We call on the great Egyptian nation to form neighbourhood watches and be heavily present in every street and every neighbourhood to protect our homes, mosques, churches and our country,” said Mohamed Abdel Aziz, campaign founder, adding that the presence in the streets would respect the curfew imposed by interim president Adly Mansour on Wednesday.
Abdel Aziz said the presence in the streets would stress the “utter refusal of domestic terrorism” and “the blatant foreign meddling” into Egypt’s internal affairs. Mahmoud Badr, Tamarod founder and spokesman who also spoke during the televised address, stated that people took to the streets on 30 June calling for the independence of Egypt from foreign interference.
“Your presence in the streets would send a message to the Turkish Prime Minister, the Qatari Prime Minister and the United States president,” Badr promised.
Turkey, Qatar and the US were among the countries which condemned the violence following the dispersal of pro-Morsi sit-ins.
Badr said Christians are paying the price for the 30 June protests which led to Morsi’s ouster. Several churches were attacked nationwide following the pro-Morsi sit-ins’ dispersal on Wednesday.
“We call on all Egyptians to protect the churches and support their Christian brothers,” Badr said. “Those who are trying to ignite strife should know that minorities do not exist in Egypt; we are all Egyptian citizens, Muslims and Christians.”
Badr said people are still committed to the roadmap announced by Commander of the armed forces Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi on 3 July.
“Just as you met our calls to take to the streets on 30 June, today we ask you to meet our calls and form neighbourhood watches tomorrow,” Badr said. “Our country is facing huge threats.”
Tamarod’s statement stirred controversy among other political movements.
The National Salvation Front (NSF) welcomed the campaign’s calls, reported state-run Al-Ahram. In a statement released on Thursday, the NSF said they will meet Tamarod’s calls to announce their utter rejection of the “obvious terrorist operations” committed by Muslim Brotherhood affiliates since the dispersal of the Rabaa and Al-Nahda “illegitimate” encampments.
“We will be on the streets tomorrow with millions of Egyptians, forming neihbourhood watches in all cities and villages to protect ourselves, our nation, our public and private properties, our mosques and our churches,” the statement read.
The 6 April Youth Movement, led by Ahmed Maher, nevertheless criticised and rejected Tamarod’s call. The movement released a statement on Thursday describing the calls as “absurd and foolish”.
“Calling on civilians to face pro-Morsi protests and marches … would lead to confrontations between citizens,” the statement read. It added that it is the regular security forces’ responsibility to face such protests within a legal context. “Calling for citizens to face the protest instead would lead us towards a civil war we strive to avoid.”
“This is an irresponsible call, we do not adopt it; we strongly reject it,” the statement concluded.
Masr Al-Qawia Party, founded by former presidential candidate Abdel Moneim Abul Fotouh, also rejected Tamarod’s calls. The party called on the state to bear full responsibility in protecting citizens, houses of worship and institutions against those who carry arms and threaten societal peace.
Tamarod released a statement on its Facebook page clarifying its televised statement. The rebellion campaign stated that the neighbourhood watches it called for would only be tasked with protecting houses and residential areas.
“It is the armed forces and security apparatuses’ duty and role to protect the people and the institutions from any terrorist acts,” the statement read.
Tamarod was established in late April, when it began collecting signatures from citizens calling for early presidential elections. The campaign was the first to call for the 30 June protests which eventually ousted Morsi.