Yesterday evening’s meeting between Egypt’s minister of interior, Mansour El-Essawy, and protesters in Qena has failed to calm tensions with more demonstrations promised until the new governor leaves.
According to state news agency MENA, they might not have to wait long. Emad Shehat Michael, the agency reports, is expected to resign as governor of Qena within the next few hours.
El-Essawy visited the Upper Egyptian city along with Mohsen El-Nomany, the minister of local development, to talk to the locals who have been protesting against the appointment of Emad Shehat Michael as governor on Thursday. The protesters’ grievances centre on Michael’s past as a police official associated to the old regime and the fact that he is the second Copt to hold the post.
The two ministers met several protesters, among them members of the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists who have insisted they won’t back down until Michael steps down. The group criticised the previous governor, Magdy Ayoub, under whom the city witnessed an increase in sectarian strife. They fear a similar scenario with Michael in charge.
El-Nomany told the group that Michael was chosen because of his qualifications and not his faith and that all Egyptians are equal. El-Essawy added that he is proud to be a native of Qena.
The two ministers assured the locals that they will discuss the crisis with the ministry council and Prime Minister Essam Sharaf as they seek ways to accommodate their demands. They asserted that they do not wish to keep in place a governor whom the residents disapprove.
The protesters have been camping in front of the governorate’s headquarters since Friday and have blocked all roads and rail links, completely isolating the city. The protest has been taken over by Salafist groups and the flag of Saudi Arabia was planted in front of the governorate’s office.
Renowned Salafist Sheikh Mohamed Hassan also met with the protesters yesterday evening.