Archive for category Politics

Ahok: Victim of a new conservative Indonesia?

Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, which is his real name, was convicted for insulting the Quran, by citing a verse at a rally for the citizens of Thousand Islands. September 27, 2016. Especially the FPI (Islamic Defenders Front, a conservative organisation, accused him of blasphemy.

@jokowi Dear mr President. How it is possible, a man like Ahok, can be convicted, in one of the largest democracies in the world?

Who is Ahok, and why several Islamic groups want him in prison? For that we need to go back to 2005. In this year, Basuki entered politics in his home region Belitung. He was elected with over 37% to become the new regent. In that time, one month after he entered office he manifested himself as a reformer. Move forward, leave the past of violence behind and develop a region of prosperity, without corruption, less bureaucracy, less traffic congestion and more job opportunities. He became quite successful, and he became popular by many.

In 2007 he resigned, and run for governor for Bangka- Belitung. The former president Abdurrahman Wahid convinced him to run for public office, and admired him for the healthcare reforms. Basuki was defeated by Eko Maulana Ali, supported by the FPI, as they never accept a Governor, from a minority population.

In 2009, Ahok became a member of the House of Representatives, for the Golkar party. In 2011, he made himself impopular to criticize the tin mining industry, for causing great environmental damage.  Youth NGO’s, supported by the FPI reported him the House of Ethics.

In that same year, he became the running mate of the current president of Indonesia, Jomo Widodo. In the second election round, they defeated governor Fauzi Bowo. Foke, as he is called by many, received a reprimand from his own Democratic Party, for joining a FPI event in 2010. He, and the Metro Jaya Police Chief Inspector General Pradopo East Pol, ate rice together with senior leaders of Habib Rizieq’s organization, at the FPI headquarters.

In 2014 when Joko Widodo took a temporary leave from his post as Jakarta governor to run for President, Basuki became the acting Governor of Jakarta from 1 June 2014. In November, that same year, Widodo became the 7th president of Indonesia, and Basuki was sworn in as the new governor of Jakarta. Since then, Basuki is a regular target by ultra- conservatives and rival candidates for being a non-muslim. Especially his minority background, made him a victim of the FPI. Several rallies were organised in the weeks of the inauguration of Basuki.

In 2016, Habib Rizieq, leader of the FPI says:  “If Jesus is the son of God, who is the midwife?” Which is, in fact blasphemy, but no one cared.

In 2017, 15 February, Basuki reached to the second round run-off between two candidates,Anies Baswedan and Agus Yudhoyono. As you might have guessed: Anies Baswedan, speeched in front of a rally, organised by the FPI. As well Agus Yudhoyon, was supported by his father, the former President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyon who is,according to the media, behind the rally against Basuki, which started the accusations of blasphemy.

Strangely, on the day Basuki speeches, no one protested. A week later a video appeared, and protests begun. According to the national and international press, the video was manipulated.

It 2017, it seems the FPI finally succeeded to defeat Basuki….

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Riot police deployed around St Mark’s Cathedral in Cairo, Egypt

By Shahira Amin. See original post

Cairo’s central district of Abbassiya was tensely calm on Monday as riot police deployed around St Mark’s Cathedral, scene of violent clashes between Coptic Christians and Muslims the previous day. A Copt was killed and more than 80 people were injured in Sunday’s clashes, the latest in a spate of deadly sectarian violence that has rocked the country in recent days. Four Copts and one Muslim were killed by gunfire in weekend clashes in the town of Khosous, north of Cairo after a group of Coptic Christians spray-painted offensive drawings on the walls of an al Azhar-affiliated building in the town. The trouble in Abbassiya meanwhile erupted when Coptic mourners (who had been attending a funeral service for the four victims of the violence in Khosous) came under attack as they left the cathedral. The Christian mourners had reportedly chanted anti-Muslim Brotherhood slogans , prompting an angry reaction from Muslim residents of the neighbourhood, who hurled rocks and molotov cocktails at them. Loud blasts were heard as riot police fired tear gas and water cannon to disperse the crowd.

President Morsi has condemned the violence, promising an immediate investigation into the incident. Copts who gathered outside the cathedral on Monday however,expressed skepticism that the perpetrators of Sunday’s attack would be brought to justice.

” We have yet to see justice done in previous assault-cases on Christians ,” said Hani Kirolos , a pharmacist. “If anything, it will be the Christians who get arrested.”

“They (the Muslim Brotherhood) want Christians to leave the country but we are not going anywhere,”said Mary Toma, a Coptic housewife.

Sectarian tensions that have been brewing for years have escalated since Islamist President Mohamed Morsi came to power with increased attacks on churches and physical assaults against Coptic Christians who make up an estimated 12 per cent of the population. Egypt’s Christians however, have not been the only group targeted in recent months by Morsi’s Islamist supporters. The country has seen intermittent violence between Islamists and liberal opposition activists demanding an end to Muslim Brotherhood rule. In recent weeks, simmering tensions between Morsi’s Islamist allies and Al Azhar have also boiled over, pitting Islamists against one another.

A controversial draft law that would allow the government to issue sukuk ( Islamic bonds ) has inflamed longstanding tensions between the Muslim Brotherhood and al Azhar, placing Sunni Islam’s highest authority on a collision course with the Islamist group ruling the country. Grappling with a burgeoning budget deficit , the Muslim Brotherhood is seeking sukuk as a new source of finance to ease the current economic crisis but al Azhar has said its scholars must be consulted over the proposed law before its issuance by the Shura Council (the Upper House of parliament currently responsible for issuing legislation). A provision in Egypt’s new Constitution stipulates that” al Azhar scholars must weigh in on matters related to Sharia law” but it remains unclear if the scholars’ decisions are binding or merely consultative.

Friction over the draft law is part of a wider conflict between the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Azhar as competition between them intensifies over religious authority in the ‘new’ Egypt.. Since the January 2011 uprising, al Azhar has sought independence after longtime state control, striving to assert its role as “the voice of moderate Islam.”

Last week, thousands of protesters rallied in Egyptian cities to express solidarity with the Grand Sheikh of al Azhar Ahmed El Tayeb amid increasing calls for his dismissal by members of the Muslim Brotherhood and fears that the Muslim Brotherhood would try to “Ikhwanize” the institution (a term used to refer to the appointment of Muslim Brotherhood members or their supporters in state institutions with the aim of controlling them.) The protests in Cairo, Luxor (the hometown of the Grand Sheikh ) and other cities came in response to earlier protests by hundreds of Azhar students angered by a case of mass food poisoning on campus . The students accused the University Management of negligence and called for those responsible for the poisoning to be held to account. An exchange of accusations followed: In a widely circulated rumour on social networking sites Facebook and Twitter, opposition activists accused the Muslim Brotherhood of involvement in the food poisoning incident which they claimed was meant ” to discredit the Grand Imam and have him replaced”. Essam El Erian, a senior member of the Muslim Brotherhood ,in turn criticized Sheikh Tayeb saying that the mass poisoning was “the result of old corruption at the university” and urging the Grand Sheikh to introduce “real change.’

The latest unrest will likely further isolate the ruling Islamists amidst growing opposition to the Morsi regime. The recent dismissal of a Salafi Presidential Advisor for allegedly “misusing his public post for illegal benefit” has fueled tensions between the Muslim Brotherhood President and ultra-conservative Salafists who had initially backed him. The hardline Islamists appear to have switched loyalty in recent months, unifying ranks with the liberal opposition and intensifying their criticism of the President. In a so-called ” national reconciliation initiative” announced in January, the Salafis echoed calls by the liberal opposition for a change of government, amendments to the constitution and the selection of a new Public Prosecutor– piling pressure on Morsi to fulfill those demands.The growing rift between Morsi and the Salafis is certain to weaken the Brotherhood’s chances of securing majority seats in the next legislative election which has been postponed indefinitely by the Supreme Constitutional Court. But the Salafi-opposition alliance may prove even more dangerous than that as it can only spell dire consequences for the Muslim Brotherhood.

 

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Turmoil in Egypt continues, as state of emergency is declared

Authoritarian

JANUARY 30, 2013
BY 

Thousands of protesters took to the streets in three Suez Canal cities on Monday night, defying a night-time curfew and a month-long state of emergency declared by Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi a day earlier.

“Down with Mohamed Morsi! No to the emergency law,”they chanted.

In a televised address to the nation on Sunday, the Islamist President announced the imposition of martial law in the restive cities of Port Said, Suez and Ismailia in a bid “to end the bloodshed and protect citizens.” The move came in response to four days of street violence that left more than 50 people dead and hundreds of others injured.

Egyptian police fire tear gas in Alexandria

The latest wave of unrest was sparked by nationwide anti-government protests on the eve of the second anniversaryof the mass uprising that toppled former president Hosni Mubarak, that began on 25 Jan 2011. Opposition activists on Friday reiterated the now-familiar revolutionary slogans of “bread, freedom and social justice” and “the people want the downfall of the regime”.

They demanded quicker reforms and called foramendments to the Islamist-tinged constitution passed in a popular referendum in December. The situation deteriorated further after 21 defendants charged with involvement in last February’s violence at Port Said football stadium — the worst football-related violence in the country’s history — were sentenced to death on Sunday. The verdict triggered angry riots and attacks on police stations in Port Said.

The army has been deployed in Port Said and Suez in a bid “to restore stability and protect vital installations,” a military spokesman said on Egyptian TV. “Those who defy the curfew or damage public property will be dealt with harshly,” he warned.

In Alexandria, Egypt’s second city, demonstrators meanwhile staged rallies to protest the return of the much-detested emergency law, which was used for decades by Mubarak to round up opponents, silence voices of dissent and stifle freedom of expression. The protesters accused President Morsi of using the same repressive tactics as his predecessor.

“Morsi is Mubarak,” they shouted, “Down with the rule of the (Muslim Brotherhood) Supreme Guide.”

In recent weeks, a government crackdown on journalists critical of President Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood has fuelled concerns of restrictions on press freedoms gained after the January 2011 uprising. Several journalists have faced criminal investigations after being accused by Morsi’s Islamist supporters of “insulting the president”.

In December, a lawsuit was filed against Egypt’s answer to Jon Stewart of the Daily Show — satirist Bassem Youssef — for poking fun at the president on his weekly television programme Al Bernameg (The Programme) on Egyptian independent satellite channel CBC. Youssef appeared on the show hugging a pillow with the president’s picture on it — a gesture mocking Morsi’s repeated calls on Egyptians to “unify ranks and love one another”. While the court dismissed the charge, the case served as a reminder to journalists that the country’s controversial new constitution includes provisions forbidding insults.

Meanwhile the online editor-in-chief for state-sponsored newspaper Al Ahram, Hani Shukrallah, was forced into early retirement this month. Highly respected for his objectivity in covering the news, Shukrallah would not reveal the details surrounding his removal from the post, but some have suggested via Twitter that his dismissal was for not being pro-Muslim Brotherhood.

In December, Islamist protesters staged a sit-in outside the Media Production City calling for “the purging of the media” and accusing independent journalists and talk show hosts of vilifying the Islamist President.

In Cairo, security forces continued battling rock-throwing youths around Kasr-el-Nil, not far from Tahrir Square for a fifth consecutive day on Monday, disrupting traffic in the downtown area. The protesters hurled molotov cocktails at the police and set fire to a police armoured personnel carrier, in scenes reminiscent of“The Friday of Rage” on 28 January 2011.

Members of the 6 April youth movement that called for the mass uprising two years ago condemned the government’s slow response to the violence and warned that the state of emergency would further provoke Morsi’s opponents. They called for a political solution to address the root cause of the problem.

Emerging from talks with the president on Monday night, Ayman Nour, Head of the liberal Ghad Al Thawra Party said that the president had rejected the call for a national unity government but had agreed to amendments to the constitution including articles that opposition political parties say undermine women’s rights.

Rights groups denounced Morsi’s declaration of a state of emergency as “a backward step” that would allow police to resort to the heavy-handed tactics practiced under the ousted regime.

Heba Morayef of Human Rights Watch in Cairo lamented Morsi’s decision to re-impose martial law describing it as “a classic knee-jerk reaction that would pave the way for more abuse by the Ministry of Interior, causing more anger.”

Analysts have expressed fears meanwhile, that the newly-declared state of emergency will plunge the country — battered by weeks of street violence — into deeper political and economic turmoil, and further polarising the already divided country. The emergence of the mysterious “Black Bloc”, a group that has vowed “to protect the goals of the revolution and rid the country of the fascist regime” has raised alarm. Islamists have so far exercised restraint and have stayed away from the protests, in order to avoid the kind of bloody confrontation witnessed in December outside of the presidential palace. They have warned warned however, that their patience is wearing thin, and that they are preparing for combat should the need arise. Such warnings have led some to even express fears of a collapse in Egyptian society. A scenario that would present Egypt’s powerful military with a fresh opportunity to return to power.

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Interview: Frank Beuken tells Al Rasub about the Arab Spring

Original interview at Al Rasub

Frank Beuken is a Blogger   and a political analyst, he talks to Al-Rasub about his coming novel and changing political conditions of Arab world..

 

Al-Rasub:     Frank, can u  tell us briefly about your younger years and school College life .

Frank Beuken:  I was born in Baarn, The Netherlands. I have seen many schools as my parents moved quite a lot. Several places in the Netherlands, France and Belgium. High school was my highest grade. Due to severe problems at home I ran away and lived temporary in a shelter home. I first tasted freedom when I lived in a town called Nijmegen in the Netherlands. I became active in protests against government decisions which were undermining normal civil rights. As well against American weapons to be place in the Netherlands. I spent many of these years in the so called underground culture of the town. Evenings were filled with philosophical discussions with friends which lasted often till the next morning.

 

Al-Rasub:     You have a very close look on Arab Spring, will you explain the context of Arab Spring ?

Frank Beuken:    From the first moment in Tunisia when a boy set himself on fire out of pure frustration against the authorities, my attention for the Arab spring was born.

Of course I was always against suppression and followed the news in Romania 1989 when the dictator Ceausescu was captured and shot by a military tribunal. The people of that country suffered for many years just because one man “owned” the country and found he had the right to abuse the people. With fear for their lives, young people, supported by miners dared the stand up against this cruel man. With the fast that 1 of 5 men in Romania had served the Securitate (Secret services) they were never sure who to trust. But they won with the right spirit.

In Tunisia the young people found the strength to stand up as well and they succeeded. Egypt followed, then Libya, Bahrain, Yemen and many more countries. The young people just had enough of these cruel dictators. All they wanted was respect, jobs and a normal future without fear.

 

Al-Rasub:    How do you think Arab spring gets its targets ?

 

Frank Beuken:  The Arab spring was already very successful. Several dictators fled or were killed. The people took back what belongs to them. The country itself. It is now important to stay focused. A good example is Egypt now with Mursi, who wants to get more power than Mubarak had. Maybe his intentions are good and does he really wants to protect the revolution but it is unacceptable for the people on Tahrir square. Many of their friends died or are in prison. Mursi needs to listen to them. Not to Tantawi, who in my opinion is still very much in power. Often I wonder if Mursi is a puppet from the army and with this idea, a democracy is still far away. And the youngsters on Tahrir are aware of this.

 

Al-Rasub:     There is a common perception in many groups in Muslim world that Arab Spring is American funded moment, what are your observation and opinion ?

 

Frank Beuken:   Personally I think it is the biggest offence for all these young people who have given their lives for the revolution. The first real proof that America couldn’t be in control, when Obama mentioned the resign date of Mubarak. But it didn’t happen. Mubarak stayed in charge. Obama lost his face with this awkward moment. People who believe that foreign powers have set up the Arab spring, are conspiracy thinkers. People who always believe that higher powers are behind it. The Arab Spring is pure and started and finished by these brave young people.

 

Al-Rasub:    Some critics says that Arab spring divided Muslim world or specially Arab world in two groups, Liberal and Fundamentalist and they give the examples of Tunisia and Egypt what you think ?

 

Frank Beuken:  These critics are often people from the west, with a huge lack of knowledge of the Arab world. Remember that Ben Ali, Khadaffi, Mubarak and now Assad as well, always mentioned the danger of fundamentalists? They wanted to warn the nation for a fear what doesn’t really exist. I mean of course there are extremist groups but they do not have the power to set the revolution in their direction. Personally I believe Al Qaida is a myth. In a sense that it isn’t a worldwide terroristic group. Every extreme group uses the name Al Qaida to impress the world. Fear is a tool to make the nation to believe in their leader, to protect them against evil.

 

Al-Rasub:     What will be or should but the outcome of Arab spring like moments ?

 

Frank Beuken:    To my opinion this isn’t an issue what will be solved in one or two years. Of course the expectations of the western world are probably the same as the people in the Arab world. We all hope that democracy is installed within a short time. That is the ideal world but unfortunately, reality is otherwise. People lived for over 30 years under suppression. Most of the people, survived by adapting them to the system. And for most families, the basic things are important: A home, a job, to be able to feed your family. Now everything is turned upside down. Suddenly the oppressor is gone. Security forces fell apart and people feel liberated. But then, reality of all day life comes around: Homes, jobs, feed the family etc. To be honest, I think it will take up to 30 years to have a full stable country again. Don’t forget; most people think the same way: Freedom. But still there are many groups who are still either supporting the former dictator or groups who want to take over control. Also these people need to be given a place in the new society. They cannot be ignored, as they are there. It will take a full generation before the whole consensus is a fact.

 

Al-Rasub:   What kind of lessons can be learned from Arab spring, especially in Muslim word.

 

Frank Beuken:   The revolutionaries must stay focused until the end. They have to stay alert until  a democratic constitution is established and protected.

 

Al-Rasub:    Tell us something about your Books and what inspires you to write a book ?

 

Frank Beuken:  With all the information and all the conversations I had with revolutionaries from Egypt, Tunisia and Libya I felt to do something. To write a book was a long time wish from my and what subject was better than the Arab Spring. What I did is I combined the protests in a novel. It is a story based on the Arab Spring. The reader will experience the protests in the streets, social behavior and to see a world which is so different than west Europe but so very much alike as well. After all, we are all human beings. This book is an ode to the young man, or the young girl in the middle of the freedom fights. The book is written in my language, Dutch, but soon it will be available in German and English. Inshallah soon in arab as well.

 

Al-Rasub:    What keep you busy during your free time?

 

Frank Beuken: Since August I started to write a new book. Again a novel in which east meets west. Still I talk a lot with people from “the arab spring” countries.

 

Al-Rasub:   What are your future projects on which you are working or you want to work?

 

Frank Beuken:   As said, my new book of course. Secondly, my wish for next year, is to meet the people I had contact with in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Bahrain, Yemen and Syria.

 

Al-Rasub:  Your message for our readers ?

 

Frank Beuken:  Believe in mankind. Stay focused and let’s unite because, we are in a far majority compare to small extremist groups who want to tell us how we have to live. So we can win and make this world a better place for all. Respect, dignity, peace and a future for all.

 

 

 

Frank Beuken can be reach at:

www.frankbeuken.com

info@frankbeuken.com

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Gaza Conflict Test for Egypt’s Morsi

 

 

Shahira Amin, Egyptian journalist, the former deputy head of Egyptian state-owned Nile TV and one of its senior anchors

Shahira Amin, Egyptian journalist, the former deputy head of Egyptian state-owned Nile TV and one of its senior anchors

By Shahira Amin for RIA Novosti

CAIRO, November 20 – As the shelling of Gaza continues and the civilian death toll rises, Egypt’s Islamist President Mohamed Morsi may face increasing pressure at home to take firm action against Israel. If that happens, Egypt might find itself drawn into a conflict that the country neither has an appetite for, nor the resources with which to fight.

In recent days, Morsi has engaged in talks with international leaders and diplomats to contain the potentially explosive crisis and stave off further bloodshed.

His talks with the Qatari leader Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa al Thani and Turkish Prime Minster Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Cairo on Saturday focused on “a ceasefire proposal for a longer lasting solution to the problem,” a source close to the talks said.

Morsi has also consulted exiled Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal and Ramadan Shallah, the leader of Islamic Jihad, a militant group in the Palestinian coastal enclave.

Morsi’s measured response and choice of a diplomatic approach over the military option for dealing with the escalation has surprised some skeptical observers, who had anticipated nothing short of “use of military force” by the Islamist President. After all, the Israeli offensive was a chance for the Muslim Brotherhood, from which Morsi hails, to act on their frequent and often intense anti-Israeli rhetoric.

Not only has there been no muscle-flexing on the part of the Egyptian President, but Egypt has also played a pivotal role in the ongoing multilateral mediation effort between Hamas and Israel – one that could soon lead to a breakthrough, according to Morsi.

While post-revolution Egypt enjoys closer relations with Hamas than the Mubarak government did (and hence, may have better chances of succeeding in mediating a truce), Egypt’s newly-elected President has so far avoided direct contact with Israeli officials – a factor likely to complicate matters as Egypt works to secure a ceasefire agreement.

If the Israeli strikes continue much longer, Morsi will face increasing pressure from Egypt’s newly-politicized public – including revolutionary forces and Islamists – to revise, or scrap altogether the peace treaty with Israel and to permanently open the Rafah border crossing to ease the suffering of Gaza’s 1.5 million residents.

The border has been partially open in recent days to allow wounded Palestinians into Egypt for medical treatment. In recent days, Morsi has sent a convoy of much-needed humanitarian aid to Gaza but he has stopped short of providing military aid to Hamas, an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood from which he hails. In the meantime, Morsi has not threatened to sever diplomatic or commercial ties with Israel.

Analysts say the Israeli offensive is a test for Egypt, whose security cooperation is vital to enforce the thirty-year-old Peace Treaty with Israel and restore stability in the Sinai region.

It also comes as Egypt is embroiled in its own domestic issues including economic decline, high unemployment, a precarious security situation in Sinai that has kept tourists and investors at bay and differences between liberals and Islamists over the role Islamic Sharia law will play in the new Egypt.

Both Israel and Hamas have expressed a willingness to commit to a diplomatic solution but have also said they were prepared to continue to fight if no truce agreement was reached. They have each put forward their conditions for an end to the hostilities. While Hamas wants the blockade on Gaza permanently lifted and is seeking an end to the targeted killings of Palestinian military leaders, Israel has demanded guarantees that Hamas will halt the rocket attacks from Gaza and the neighboring Sinai Peninsula.

In recent months, Jihadi militants have attempted to launch cross-border attacks into Israel from neighboring Egypt. Egyptian military and police forces in Northern Sinai have also been targeted in similar violent attacks.

In the latest in a series of deadly assaults since the start of the year, three police officers were killed when gunmen ambushed a police patrol in El Arish earlier this month. In August 2012, 16 Egyptian border guards were killed when Jihadi militants attacked their outpost as they were breaking their Ramadan fast.

The Israeli onslaught which began on Wednesday and is soon to enter its second week, was triggered by the firing of Hamas rockets from inside Gaza into southern Israeli cities and towns. Longer-range rockets targeting Tel Aviv have also been intercepted.

Since the outbreak of the latest round of violence, hundreds of rockets have been fired into Israel, over 250 of which have been knocked down by Israel’s Iron Dome air defense System. Israeli sources said 120 rockets were fired on Monday alone, nineteen of which were stopped by Iron Dome. Meanwhile the death toll in Gaza from nearly a week of Israeli shelling has reached 110, with hundreds more injured.

Shahira Amin is an Egyptian journalist, the former deputy head of Egyptian state-owned Nile TV and one of its senior anchors.

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The last days of Palestine

For all those years I believed in an eventually independent Palestine. A nation for Palestinians next to Israel. Now I believe it became a Utopia.

The Israeli government supported by the ultra-right wing party are at the eve of destruction. Are we all witnessing the final hour for Palestine? The illegal settlers on the West Bank and ground forces of the IDF, Israeli Defence Force, are at the borders of Gaza.

Where millions of people around the world believed in a free Palestine. Where many world leaders warned Israel to pull back and to give Palestine the autonomy what it deserves, like any other nation. Israel is not willing to accept any of those points. Are we really experiencing the last Palestine?

Video’s like these give hope. There are still many young people in Israel refusing to fight for this barbaric government.

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Egyptians Bitter over Morsi’s ‘Broken’ Promises

Link to original article: RIA Novosti
Shahira Amin, Egyptian journalist, the former deputy head of Egyptian state-owned Nile TV and one of its senior anchors
Shahira Amin, Egyptian journalist, the former deputy head of Egyptian state-owned Nile TV and one of its senior anchors
CAIRO, October 15 (Shahira Amin for RIA Novosti)

A million-strong protest organized by Egypt’s secularists, political forces, and revolutionary youth-activists turned violent on Friday October 12, when clashes broke out in Cairo’s Tahrir Square between President Mohamed Morsi’s opponents and Muslim Brotherhood supporters.

Organizers held the protest, dubbed “Accountability Friday,” to demand a more egalitarian constitution, and express their anger at Morsi’s record in his first 100 days in office.

They accuse him of failing to fulfill his campaign pledges to tackle issues such as security, traffic, fuel, bread, and garbage collection.

Ahead of Friday’s protest, Morsi gave a nationwide televised speech defending his policies. He insisted that he had delivered on most of the pledges in his100-day plan, including those related to security, traffic and garbage.

Controversial Acquittals Spark Violence

Morsi’s supporters were protesting against the acquittal of former regime loyalists in the “Battle of the Camels” case, when men riding camels and horses charged at peaceful protesters in Tahrir Square on February 2, 2011.

The acquittal of all the suspects, including senior members of the former regime, in this high-profile case sparked a new wave of anger among Islamist groups and youth-revolutionaries alike. They have repeatedly called for “kassas,” or retribution for the martyrs of the revolution.

Eager to dampen public outrage over this ahead of Friday’s protests, President Morsi promised there would be a retrial, and ordered the dismissal of the Mubarak-appointed Public Prosecutor Mahmoud Abdel Meguid.

A spokesman from the Public Prosecutor’s office, however, has said that Abdel Meguid would not step down.

Morsi’s supporters defended the Islamists’ actions in Tahrir Square on Friday as “a response to provocation.”

“They were chanting anti-Muslim Brotherhood slogans and hurling insults at the President,” said Ahmed Mohamed Fayed, a Muslim Brotherhood and local council member.

Liberal activists in turn accused the Muslim Brotherhood of instigating the violence. “They came to break up our protest and divert attention away from our demands, which include justice for the martyrs and the purging of the judiciary and the media,” said Abdel Rahman Mohamed, a young architect from the liberal camp.

Revolutionary forces have been further angered by multiple acquittals of police officers accused of killing over 800 protesters during the January, 25, 2011 mass uprising. They want to see the police officers involved retried, and believe that Mubarak and his entourage deserve harsher sentences.

On Wednesday, Morsi granted amnesty to all political detainees tried in military courts in the initial phase of the post-revolutionary transitional period. While their release was one of the revolutionaries’ key demands, many felt Morsi’s decision was “too little, too late,” and said they would continue to pressure the Islamist president until they see “justice done.”

“We also want the Islamist-dominated Constituent Assembly to be disbanded,” Mohamed added, expressing concern that “the draft constitution threatens to undermine women’s rights by linking gender equality with Islamic jurisprudence.”

Legitimacy in Question

A Cairo court is expected to rule later this month on the legality of the Constituent Assembly – the 100-member panel tasked with drafting a new constitution. Critics argue that it is illegitimate, as many of its members were selected by a parliament that has since been dissolved.

“Political forces have come to express their dissatisfaction with the slow pace of reforms and the government’s lack of transparency,” explained 23-year-old Ahmed Hassan, an architecture student at Helwan University. “We also want to express our frustration with the decision to grant top military generals a safe exit,” he said.

October 9 marked the first anniversary of the “Maspero” protests in which 27 protesters – mostly Copts demanding the protection of their churches – were killed by the army outside Egypt’s State Television building.

Revolutionary activists hold Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, the former Head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, and former Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces Sami Anan, responsible for the massacre.

They argue that it took place on their watch, when the country was under their control and are calling for their prosecution. Morsi dismissed the two top generals in August following a militant attack on a border post in North Sinai that killed 16 border guards.

The ‘Stolen’ Revolution

Waving their fists in the air, anti-Muslim Brotherhood protesters in the square meanwhile chanted “You have sold out the revolution, Badie!”

Mohamed Badie is the Muslim Brotherhood’s Supreme Guide and the opposition use this slogan to suggest that the Islamist movement “stole the revolution.”

“The people support the President’s decision to dismiss the Public Prosecutor,” yelled Morsi supporters, in an attempt to drown out the voices of the Muslim Brotherhood.

A fresh exchange of rock-throwing ensued, resulting in scores of injuries. Wounded youths, their faces bloodied, were ferried on motorbikes and carried by fellow protesters to ambulances parked outside the square.

“We’ve received a steady stream of injured young people in the last couple of hours,” said an emergency medic, tending to the facial wounds of a man who had just been brought in.

Some protesters threw Molotov cocktails, triggering a stampede and resulting in more injuries. Some mistook the sound of firecrackers (which appeared to be coming from nearby streets) for gunshots, causing further panic.

According to a Health Ministry source, at least 121 people were injured in the October 12 clashes. The protesters included large numbers of unemployed young people and seasonal workers who are frustrated with high living costs and lack of opportunities on the jobs market.

“I have three children. What has Morsi done for my family?” asked Amr Menaweesh, an unemployed mechanic. “Tell him we are waiting for him to fulfill his promises.”

Shahira Amin is an Egyptian journalist, the former deputy head of Egyptian state-owned Nile TV and one of its senior anchors.

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