Calls for Friday protests resound in Alexandria, Suez and Qena

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CAIRO: Activists and political powers will organize protests in Alexandria, Suez, Qena and Luxor on Friday, dubbed “Correcting the Path,” coinciding with mass protests planned in Cairo.

“Some of us will travel to Cairo [Thursday night] to join protesters in Tahrir Square [on Friday], while the rest will organize a protest here in Qena’s Mahatta Square,” Mostafa El-Gales, member of Qena’s Coalition of the Youth of the Revolution, told Daily News Egypt.

Qena protesters will head to Luxor at 4 pm to join demonstrations there.

In Alexandria, protesters plan on gathering at Qaed Ibrahim Square on Sept. 9.

“Most people here are infuriated by the current status and want to participate in the protests,” Haitham Nassar, a member of Al-Wafd Party, said.

Protesters around the country will voice the same demands: amending the PA and Shoura Council laws, ending military trials of civilians, setting a specific timeframe for handing over power to a civilian government and setting a reasonable minimum and maximum wage.

While some political powers seemed adamant on participating in the protests despite a statement issued Wednesday by the Supreme Council of the Armed Council (SCAF), around 20 political parties preferred to remain cautious, boycotting the protests which they thing may lead to clashes with the armed forces.

In its 74th statement, SCAF put the responsibility of securing the Sept. 9 protests on the shoulders of demonstrators. It also warned against attacking any military or police units, referring to Facebook pages calling for confrontations with the army. These pages have however been denounced by political powers and activists.

“The recent detected calls inciting the public to attack units of armed forces and police in the name of these forces represent an attempt to raise doubts over their national inclinations,” SCAF said.

Several political powers including the April 6 Youth Movement, Kefaya, the Coalition of the Youth of the Revolution, the National Association for Change as well as Al-Tagammu, Al-Ghad, Al-Adl and the Egyptian socialist parties, will participate in the protests.

These groups have distanced themselves from the “anonymous” Facebook pages calling for violence, stressing that the protests will be peaceful.

“These people were probably paid to create Facebook pages and cause strife between the political powers and the armed forces,” Mahmoud Afify, spokesperson of the April 6 Youth Movement, said.

Karima Al-Hifnawy, member of the National Association for Change and Kefaya, lashed out at SCAF for not investigating these calls, and instead withdrawing from performing its role to protect the right to peacefully protest.

“They should investigate these calls, prosecute those responsible in front of regular courts and increase security around these threatened units,” she said. “It’s not our responsibility to protect the army and the police, it should be the other way around.”

El-Gales said that SCAF always uses these kinds of statements to intimidate those planning on participating in mass protests.

However, Mohamed Hamed, member of the political bureau of the Free Egyptians Party, said, “We used to criticize SCAF for these kinds of statements. But under the current circumstances and following the recent clashes that took place, SCAF has every right to do this to prevent further clashes.”

Hamed was referring to recent clashes between security forces and football fans on Tuesday, and previous clashes outside ousted president Hosni Mubarak’s trial on Monday. He added that anyone can join these protests and that it’s beyond the control of political powers.

Afify disagreed, confidently saying, “We have secured the square before and we are capable of securing it again.”

SCAF had issued a similar statement before mass protests planned for May 27, which went ahead smoothly without any clashes or violence.

Chairman of the Supreme Council of Sufi Orders, Abdel Hadi Al-Qasabi, said these “anonymous” Facebook calls indicated that there “was an attempt to cause strife between the people and the army.” The council issued a statement on Thursday announcing that they would not participate in the protests.

“We should preserve our Egyptian army, which is carrying out a patriotic mission focusing on protecting Egypt and its people,” read the statement.

Most Islamist groups and parties, including the Freedom and Justice Party and Salafi parties, said earlier this week that they will not participate in the protests. The Muslim Brotherhood (MB) later made the same decision.

“We need to conserve our energy and effort to rebuild our country,” Rashad Bayoumi, deputy leader of the MB, previously told DNE.

Hamed pointed out that the Free Egyptians and the “Egyptian bloc” have not yet made a final decision regarding their participation — “but they’re leaning towards boycotting.”

Some groups have called for organizing marches from different areas to Cairo’s iconic Tahrir Square following Friday prayers.

A Facebook event launched by “the movement of high school students,” called for having a march from Hegaz Square in Heliopolis to Tahrir, while the Center For Socialist Studies called for a march from Al-Istiqama Mosque in Giza to the square, with the Israeli Embassy en route.


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