Riots rock Egypt on revolution anniversary

Police clashed with protesters in Cairo Jan. 24, eve of the the second anniversary of the uprising that overthrew Hosni Mubarak. Demonstraors calling for the fall of  President Mohamed Morsi tried to dismantle a concrete security barrier that blocked a street leading to Tahrir Square, focal point of protest movement that broke out on Jan. 25, 2010 and led to Mubarak’s resignation 18 days later. The walls were erected last year to protect government buildings in the area. The National Salvation Front opposition bloc has called for rallies “in all the Tahrir Squares of the country.” (Middle East Online, Jan. 24)

Morsi meanwhile delivered a speech at Cairo’s Azhar Conference Hall celebrating Mulid Al-Nabi, the holiday marking the birth of Prophet Muhammad, during which he charged that “counter-revolution” forces are attempting to “undermine the state.” Echiong similar sentiments voiced in recent days by Muslim Brotherhood leaders, he said: “The counter-revolution is being led by remnants of ousted president Hosni Mubarak’s regime to obstruct everything in the country.” (Ahram Online, Jan. 24)

National Salvation Front spokesman Khaled Daoud protested the remarks, assertikng that no NSF member is a “remnant” (feloul) of the former regime. He asserted that, for NSF members, the term “feloul” means “former members of [Mubarak’s] now-defunct National Democratic Party who took part in the 2005 and 2010 elections, or anyone facing corruption charges…. Our members all agree on the revolution’s demands for freedom and social justice. This is what unites the front.” (Ahram Online, Jan. 21)

  1. Egyptian Black Bloc emerges
    Colin Moynihan, blogging for the New York Times Jan. 25 notes reports—both from AP and tweeters on the scene—of a “Black Bloc” of anarchists in Cairo, “wearing black masks and waving black banners,” and issuing audacious warnings to the Muslim Brotherhood not to use its “military wing” to put down the protests… One observer on the scene reports, hearteningly, that the Black Bloc has “female members”…

  2. Anarchist scare in Egypt
    Gen. Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, Egypt’s defense minister, was quoted by the BBC News Jan. 29: “The continuing conflict between political forces and their differences concerning the management of the country could lead to a collapse of the state and threaten future generations.” The comments apparently came in response to the emergence of the “Black Bloc,” which BBC says “have been at the vanguard of the latest protests in Cairo.”

  3. White terror in Egypt?
    From Vice, Feb. 1:

    With violent demonstrations again roiling the country, the black blocs also provided the government and its allies with a convenient new scapegoat. Muslim Brotherhood officials and state-backed media have already blamed the groups for all manner of mayhem, from exchanging fire with security forces to attacking Brotherhood offices. On Tuesday Egypt’s chief prosecutor ordered the arrest of anyone participating in a black bloc, with a spokesman calling the blocs an “organized, terrorist group.” The state news agency announced the arrest of 18 alleged black bloc members on Thursday. Local media also reported that Salafis were forming a “white bloc” to combat the newcomers. The hardline Islamic Group announced that it was prepared to “kill, crucify or cut off the hands and feet” of black bloc members, if so ordered by the president.

    For those who know the history of the rise of European fascism, this is very ominous…

  4. UN denounces rising violence against women in Egypt
    The UN top women’s rights advocate on Feb. 1 denounced escalating violence against women in EgyptMichelle Bachelet, executive director of UN Women, expressed particular concern about a recent protest in Tahrir Square in downtown Cairo, in which 25 women were reportedly sexually assaulted. In her statement, Bachelet urged Egypt’s government to enact legislation to ensure that women and girls are protected from violence:

    UN Women calls upon the Government and people of Egypt to take a firm stand against all forms of violence against women and girls, and to promote human rights for all, including the rights of women to live free of violence and discrimination and to participate fully in social, economic and political life.

    Earlier this week UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay also deplored the sexual violence that occurred in Tahrir Square.

    From Jurist, Feb. 1. Used with permission.