Egypt Uprising 2013: Counting Down
One Week to go
The week started with everyone talking about June 30, both excitement and apprehension were present in every conversation. The number of people against the Muslim Brotherhood increased everyday. The question is why would any normal Egyptian be on their side? In the past weeks people had to stand in endless lines to find diesel, every house and workplace all over Cairo suffer from water and power cuts, and prices of essential products never seize to increase. But one week before the date of the uprising, Egyptians had to face one more problem. without prior notice Egypt ran out of gas and the streets of Cairo turned into a parking lot.
It became normal to find a gas line in every street that has a gas station. Suddenly it looked like the whole of Greater Cairo was connected in a single gas line that had no beginning or end. Suddenly it became normal to find cars parked in a gas line that ran out of gas just to save the turn. It became normal for people to spend three hours in line. It became normal for people to stay home because they didn't have enough fuel.
Suddenly it became normal for people to wake up in the middle of the night to fill their tanks....
On Sunday the 23rd, one day after the Interior Ministry announced that their sole responsibility is to protect the people, sectarian strife shot again, this time against Shiites. Although it has become usual in the past few years, this incident was very unusual among Egyptians. In an unprecedented act, a majority of the residents of Abo El Nomros, in El Haram, Giza have supported and encouraged torturing, killing and corpse mutilation of four men, justifying all of it by believing that people of the same religion but a different creed are infidels.
This has all happened with more than ten Central Security Forces soldiers and officers armed with teargas and sticks standing meters away and not reacting.....
For months some waited to know the Defense Minister's stance regarding the MB rule. For months Abd El Fattah El Sisi has been very discreet about it. But when he finally gave a vague speech on Sunday and stated that "The armed forces have avoided politics in the past period, yet the national and moral responsibility of the forces towards their people obliges them to intervene to stop Egypt from slipping into a dark tunnel of civil fighting and killing, or sectarianism, or collapse of the state institutions" (full text here), Hopes of a soft/hard coup have turned high among military rule supporters, especially when the minister mentioned that the army's role is to protect the will of the people.
On Monday, a day after the minister has spoken a National Security Council meeting was announced. The meeting's statement expressed the attendees' respect to peaceful protests and declared that the parliamentary elections will be held in a few months, once the elections law is approved. As the anger rises and so does the army support, the presidency announced that the president will give a speech on Wednesday to celebrate the first anniversary of his inauguration.
Rebel movement met this announcement with a call for a protest to watch the speech in Tahrir Square...
The Rest of Egypt
While the Egyptian capital has always been the center of protests and clashes, this time it started in other governorates. The protests have started earlier than expected; on the day of the governors' reshuffling people took the streets in all governorates that had a new Muslim Brotherhood governor. As the protests became bigger they have also demanded the removal of the regime.
By this week clashes have erupted in places like: Mansoura, Zagzig, Tanta, El Mahalla, Monofeya, Alexandria's Seedy Gaber, Aga, Kafr El Sheikh, Beni Souief and many others. This time most deaths were from the side of the pro-regime attacker rather than the defender. An expected development of the minority's violence, was greater brutality from the majority, the result is more killing.
It has become clear after months of increasing violence that many Egyptians are quickly losing humanness....
As the day of the speech approached, the country was swamped with rumors. This is how it has always happened, what was new this time was that they actually had an effect. On Wednesday morning the divisions have already started. With rumors of another Cairo Fire, fear spread like a cancer between people. Rumors of sacking El Sisi drove the Ministry of Defense protesters to call for a big protest to support an army coup. Rumors that the June 30 Front activists, a new front announced on Wednesday to unite the youth powers, have met with the SCAF have resulted in huge divisions among them.
But all of this melted away after Morsi spoke...
The President's Speech
After he succeeded to keep all the country waiting in front of a television to hear what he had to say, he said nothing. Morsi spoke for almost three hours, finishing his speech after midnight, and had absolutely nothing to say. He again spoke to his family and folks, mentioning the names of his enemies like no respectable president would do, he succeeded in nothing but embarrassing all Egyptians in front of the rest of the world. He promised nothing but to fix the fuel problem. The almost three hour speech that had not once mentioned June 30 or the clashes that were happening in Mansoura a few hours before he spoke, had one aim, to show that the army and police are on the side of the regime. This was proven, from the president's opinion, after both ministers of Defense and Interior were present in the front row listening to his speech, and after mentioning five times that he's the commander-in-chief of the police and armed forces.
After Ann Patterson, U.S. ambassador to Egypt, met with Khairat El Shater, it has become clear that Morsi is not considered president outside as well as inside Egypt, and so nobody cared about the speech anyway...
As the day approaches, fear spread between both the people and the regime. On Thursday evening, the streets of Cairo that have not been moving in the past days were as empty as they have never been. Shops have closed, people either left the city or stayed home. Families and loved ones called each other asking them to stay home. The supermarkets and ATMs have been emptied.
The army forces were mobilized to protect vital areas and buildings. The Presidential Palace was surrounded by a wall of cement blocks, all gates were also blocked....
Two days before the revolution, the plan was to mobilize all governorates but Greater Cairo's. Today what actually happened was that there were protests in almost every city and village in Egypt. While Alexandria, Dakahleya, Port Said, Dameitta, Monofeya, Gharbeya, Sharqeya and Beni Souief had huge protests, Greater Cairo had four sit-ins for the first time since January 25, 2011. As protesters poured in in Tahrir Square, others stayed in Kitkat in Giza, and others in front of the Ministry of Defense. A warm up has started with two small sit-ins in the vicinity of the Presidential Palace in Heliopolis. Protesters held posters and cards with just one word, "LEAVE".
As revolutionaries took the streets upon their free-will all over Egypt, the regime supporters were carried in buses from across the country to the capital to join one big sit-in in Nasr City, east of Cairo to support the Muslim Brotherhood rule. As usual, the "protest" was filled with speeches threatening revolutionaries and promising to kill whoever does a little harm to their president.
The day has faced clashes in many cities between revolutionaries and regime supporters that left two dead, one of which is an American citizen, and 227 injured.
Egyptians and Islamists "Don't Mix"....
**Pictures courtesy of Mahmoud Gamal El-Din