2011-01-25 Revolution Day in Egypt

Egyptians will be demonstrating today in solidarity with Tunisia and in hope for change within their own government. An Egyptian national holiday in honour of the police, has been renamed ‘The Day of Wrath’, ‘Revolution Day’, and the ‘Koshari Revolution’, the latter referring to a rice, lentils and pasta dish frequently eaten by lower income Egyptians.

There has been a significant amount of support and planning for the protest online, causing the government and police to promise an equally strong suppression. Over 85,000 people have liked the Facebook page for the protest day, calling for a day of revolution against torture, poverty, corruption and unemployment.

April 6 Youth Movement, whose group said they distributed over 150,000 flyers for the event, had at least three members arrested last week for distributing pamphlets, according to Egypt’s al-Masry al-Youm. Almost half of Egypt’s 80 million people live on less than or just above USD$2 a day. The protesters are calling for a raise of minimum wage to 1200 pounds, linking wages to prices, getting rid of the Interior Minister, and abolishing the state of emergency that Egypt has imposed since 1981.

It is this state of emergency, which bans protests without government permits, and allows the government to make arrests without charge, that will give the police the authority to enact a severe crackdown on any protesters. Monsters and Critics writes:

On Monday, the head of security for Cairo, Ismail Shaer, said that police ‘will deal firmly and decisively’ with anyone attempting to take part in unauthorised protests based on the directives of Minister of Interior Habib al-Adly.’

The Defence Front for Egyptian protesters, an umbrella organisation representing over a dozen human rights NGO’s, are planning to provide lawyers for protesters that might be arrested.

 

Al Jazeera reports:

Habib el-Adli, the interior minister, has issued orders to “arrest any persons expressing their views illegally”.

“I tell the public that this Facebook call comes from the youth,” Adli said in an interview published by the state-owned newspaper al Ahram.

“Youth street action has no impact and security is capable of deterring any acts outside the law,” he said, adding that he welcomed “stationary protests held for limited periods of time” and that police would protect the protesters.

 

Fear of the police, who Al Jazeera call “a key force in keeping president Hosni Mubarak in power for 30 years”, may cause less people to attend the protest. “We are not less than Tunisia.” organizers wrote on the Facebook page. “On Jan. 25, we have to show the world that we are not a cowardly, submissive people.” Organizers also told people to bring an Egyptian flag, and leave any other banners that represent their religious or political affiliation at home. This day is for all Egyptians.

According to Al Arabiya

The call for protests was first initiated by “The Martyr” Facebook page, set up in the name of a young Egyptian man, Khaled Said, whose family and witnesses say was beaten to death by a pair of policemen in the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria last year. His case has become a rallying point for the opposition.

Witnesses say the two plainclothes policemen dragged him from a cafe and beat him to death on the sidewalk. Two policemen are currently on trial in connection with his death.

 

President Hosny Mubarak’s National Democratic Party was reelected just two months ago with more than 80 per cent of seats. The Muslim Brotherhood lost all of their previously held 88 seats in the parliament in the election. Al Arabiya reports:

Legal parties such as the liberal Wafd and Al-Ghad in addition to supporters of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood – Egypt’s best organized opposition group – workers, students, government employees and activists said they will join the rally.

 

WL Central has reported on the unrest in Egypt since the Tunisian uprising, hereherehere andhere. According to Al Arabiya

The government has played down self-immolation attempts, with Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif telling reporters on Monday that those who committed the act were driven by “personal issues.” …

On Monday alone, police reported at least two self-immolation attempts in two provinces. In Cairo, a man in his 60s slashed his wrists in the middle of a small demonstration. None of the three died.

Not a single day passes in Egypt without more than one suicide attempt reported. A recent study by the Cabinet Center for Information and Decision Making, an official body, showed that around 100,000 Egyptians took their own lives or attempted to do so in 2010.

 

The revolution is well publicized, promised reaction from the police has been issued, and sympathizers around the world are now watching and ready to report. Whether the world watching will make a difference remains to be seen. From Al Jazeera:

Commenting on the wave of public unrest in Tunisia, Adli said talk that the “Tunisian model” could work in other Arab countries was “propaganda” and had been dismissed by politicians as “intellectual immaturity”.

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