Millions of Egyptians are preparing for today’s highly anticipated protests in hopes of an early election and what some are hoping will be the order to remove Egypt’s first freely-elected ruler, Islamist president Mohammed Morsi, from political office.
The movement dubbed as ‘Tamarod’ (Arabic for rebel) alleges to have collected more than 22 million signatures in support of ousting Morsi, which greatly outnumbers the 13.2 million who voted him into power in the first place. Undeniably, some Egyptians who voted for Morsi exactly one year ago yesterday have decided he has failed as president of the Egyptian people.
Egypt has been experiencing considerable turbulence during this last week. The nation’s Health Ministry reported seven deaths, including one American, since Wednesday, according to Ahram Online, a website run by Egypt’s largest news organization, Al Ahram Establishment.
According to CPJ (the Committee to Protect Journalists), the Egyptian state has even warned Egypt’s independent news organizations that “they will be shut down if the government deems that their coverage of this weekend’s political protests incites violence, insults individuals, or contradicts societal values.”
Independent news agencies like Al-Faraeen TV, Dream, CBC (Capital Broadcasting Center), and Al-Nahar, have been officially warned by this threat – one that the CPJ condemns.
The CPJ reported that ”[in] his speech on Wednesday, Morsi accused CBC owner Mohamed al-Amin and Dream owner Ahmed Bahgat of promoting coverage critical of the government as a way to cover up supposed financial and legal problems.”
Al-Ahram reported that “[nine] MPs declared their resignation from the Shura Council Saturday at an anti-Morsi Rebel campaign press conference”. The resignations came in response to the anti-Morsi petition.
The police forces and military, which have been aloof since Morsi took seat in office, have publicly pledged to protect the protesters. Amnesty International, an independent international organization in support of human rights, released a statement Friday saying “[the] Egyptian authorities must uphold the right to peaceful assembly and protect protesters and bystanders from violence”.
Along similar lines, Egypt’s Minister of Interior, Maj.-Gen. Mohammad Ibrahim, promised to protect Egypt’s major buildings and said authorities will only intervene if violence occurs.
Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) reported that Maj.-Gen. Ibrahim said police forces dispatched to the protests will don newly created badges so that protesters will be able to distinguish the real cops from fake ones.
“The policemen who will protect the protesters will be supplied with certain badges to prevent any penetration into their ranks by violent elements who could disguise as police,” Maj.-Gen. Ibrahim said in the KUNA report.
In the article, he goes on to say that “the ministry decided also to post certain slogans on the police vehicles to distinguish them and prevent any attempt to steal the vehicles and perpetrate violent acts with a view to driving a wedge between the police and protesters.”
According to Al-Ahram, Morsi responded to the ‘Tamarod’ movement by saying “[we] are a country with a constitution and a legal system.” He went on, adding that “[we] held a free and fair election and to talk of an early presidential election is absurd and illegitimate.”
Ben Wedeman, CNN’s senior correspondent in Cairo, tweets:
Many Egyptians are calling tomorrow’s event Egypt’s second revolution, and that name might just stick.
Be sure to check out Dona Boulos’ Egypt Post-Revolution: A trip back home