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The crowd in Roxy believes it has a point

Small groups of protesters in Roxy call for stability and respect for Mubarak, but the much larger, predominantly Islamist demonstration in Tahrir may be equally pro-Supreme Council for the Armed Forces

Dina Ezzat , Friday 29 Jul 2011
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"On 25 January, Police Day, they went out to destroy the police – and they did; but they destroyed so much more. Then, on 23 July, the Armed Forces Day, they thought they could also destroy the army and they left Tahrir to march on Abassiya, close to the headquarters of the Ministry of Defense. We are here to tell them that they cannot destroy the army and that we support the army".

This was how Diaa, an engineer participating in the Roxy sit-in, summed up the position of less than 15 people who gathered at a small public garden – no more than 100 people can fit in there – in this part of the east-Cairo district of Heliopolis. They were there to show solidarity with the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) and denounce the march organised last Saturday to the headquarters of the Ministry of Defence (MOD) by a group of Tahrir protesters, calling it “an unacceptable attack” and an unprecedented stepping over “the red line” that is the Egyptian.

According to Taha, a driver who was part of the small crowd, "there is no difference between SCAF, MOD and the Egyptian army; they are all one and the same; if you attack one, you have attacked the rest – we cannot accept an attack on the Egyptian army".

But the issue for the Roxy crowd, according to the less than 15 people who were present on Thursday and who promised that they would increase to 15,000 by this afternoon – after the Friday Prayers – support for the army-SCAF-MOD is but part of their thesis which is anti-25 January Revolution if not downright pro-Mubarak regime, even though they have not phrased it as such.

Members of the Roxy sit-in are united in their criticism of the 25 January demonstrators and they insist that "those in Tahrir do not represent Egypt".

"How much did they get to do this to the Egyptian people," Ayman, a cameraman who is harshly critical of the 6 April Movement, asked rhetorically.

The Roxy sit-in is also calling for recognition of the good things that Mubarak did for the country – although many of them are wary of being called Mubarak loyalists. "This is not about Mubarak but it is about the country, though Mubarak did a lot of good things. But we are not here to support Mubarak; we are here to say that SCAF is running the country and that it should decide what needs to be done.”

Like others who were present in Roxy on Thursday evening, Antar too is convinced that "pursuing the roadmap designed by SCAF is the way to secure stability in the country; there is simply no other way". For Taha, a butcher, "If SCAF was to be overlooked or dismantled it would be a disaster because this is the only remaining institution capable of running the country".

The calls made in Roxy run counter to everything that was said in Tahrir later the same evening. "We did not topple the Mubarak regime in order to replace it with SCAF or any other body; SCAF cannot decide things singlehandedly; it has to listen to the will of the people," said Nashaat, an accountant in Tahrir.

Nashaat and others among the thousands who gathered in Tahrir on Thursday evening was not at all bothered by accusations coming from Roxy or elsewhere. For Rashdah, "We know we will be subject to another smear campaign by the state-run media as was the case during the early days of the revolution and we know that in Roxy or Moustafa Mahmoud [a square in Mohendssine, west Cairo) some will assemble to talk about stability. But freedom, justice and fairness is the only way to stability; succumbing to Mubarak, SCAF or any other figure is the way towards dictatorship, not stability".

And while Mohamed in Roxy was determined that Mubarak should be spared trial out of respect for "his age and his days of service in the armed forces", yet another Mohamed in Tahrir Square insisted that "unless Mubarak is tried and unless the trial is made public the demonstrations in Tahrir will never stop".

By Friday noon, there were less than five hundred people around Roxy Square demonstrating for "the respect of the wish of the public for stability". In Tahrir, at the same time, thousands were gathering under predominantly Islamist banners whose calling, among other things, for "an Islamic Egypt" – despite the fact that the main banner for the demonstration is "Unity Friday", a supposed call for the unity of all those political forces that joined hands during the days of he revolution despite different, even conflicting, agendas.

"This unity is assumed and it is not real; the Islamists are clearly with the SCAF and we (the liberals) are not," said Mona, who spoke to Ahram Online on the phone from one of what she described as “the few non-Islamist tents in the Square”. For Mona, "If you scratch beneath the surface the Islamists in Tahrir and those in Roxy are of the same opinion, yes – blind support for the SCAF is what they mean."

 

 

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