Thousands of Eyptians hold an anti-zionist and anti-US demonstration in Cairo on April 8, 2011. The demonstration demanded the re-opening of the border with Gaza and tried to take the Israeli flag from the embassy to replace it with a Palestine one., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Despite threats Progressive Egyptians press revolution forward
By Gene Clancy
Published Jul 21, 2011 10:40 PM
Thousands of Egyptians, intent on defending the gains of their revolution and vowing to achieve still more, rallied on July 15 in the nation’s two largest cities — Cairo and Alexandria. They encircled a security building, chanting “Oh police, you are criminals.” They demanded trials for the police officers suspected of killing hundreds of activists during the winter uprising that brought down U.S.-backed President Hosni Mubarak.
The protests in the capital of Cairo and the port city of Alexandria were billed as the “Friday of Last Warning” to the military council that took over from Mubarak and is supposed to lead Egypt to democracy. (Associated Press, July 15)
Hundreds of militant activists camped out at Tahrir Square, following the largest demonstrations since the 18-day popular uprising began on Jan. 25. This location was the birthplace of the Egyptian uprising.
“We want to cleanse the country’s institutions,” said a demonstrator who was standing on a stage in the square. He told a nearby group, “Until we see the government officials [talking to protesters] in Tahrir, we will not leave this place.” He led a chant of “Bread, freedom and social justice.” (AP, July 15)
The protesters’ frustration was reflected in new graffiti on the wall of Cairo’s biggest government building, which faces the square. “The revolution has protectors,” read one slogan, referring to the protesters’ determination to keep mobilizing until their demands are met.
In Alexandria, thousands rallied outside the local security headquarters. Some jumped over a high fence, which surrounds the building housing the Interior Ministry’s local branch. They tore down the police flag and replaced it with the Egyptian national banner. They sprayed anti-police graffiti on the walls and covered the ministry’s golden emblem with the words “The Ministry of Torture.”
Meanwhile, the Egyptian “transitional government,” run by the military — which has strong ties to the U.S. — issued threats and warnings to the demonstrators against “harming public interests.” Maj. Gen. Mohsen el-Fangari read the military’s statement on state television. “It was the strongest public warning to protesters issued by the ruling generals since they took over from Mubarak when he stepped down on Feb. 11,” reported the AP. (July 12)
El-Fangari spoke in a threatening tone that suggested the generals are closely watching the flurry of protests, sit-ins and strikes that have engulfed the nation since the uprising. Ominously, they called on Egyptians to “confront” any actions that prevent the “return to normalcy,” although he claimed that the military’s response to offenders “would be within the boundaries of ‘legitimacy.’” No further explanation was given.
The generals’ statement was a thinly-veiled warning to the protesters who know that a “return to normalcy” would mean a return to the old regime’s repression. Human rights advocates and organizers in Egypt and abroad maintain that military tribunals have tried “at least 10,000 people for alleged security offenses since the army took over the streets from the police” at the end of January. (AP, July 12) They also assert that many activists have been tortured and even killed since their struggle began.
However, the Egyptian protesters are determined to keep up their fight. In many locations, activists have begun hunger strikes. Al-Ahram, Egypt’s largest English language news organization, reports, “There are not less than 25 protesters currently on hunger strike in Suez, who say they will not break their fast unless [their] demands are met.
“The April 6 Youth Movement in Alexandria announced that a number of its members, including its coordinator in the city Islam El-Hadry, started a hunger strike on July 8, objecting to how the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces and the government have ignored the demands of the protesters.” Al-Ahram reported that two protesters were taken to an Alexandria hospital because of fatigue. (July 12)
The determined struggle of the Egyptian people goes on.
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