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National salvation protests gain momentum, mobilising hundreds of thousands across Egypt
After three days of deadly police attacks on protesters in Tahrir, hundreds of thousands descend onto the streets to rid themselves of the ruling military and install a 'national salvation' government
Yasmine Fathi , Tuesday 22 Nov 2011
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Tahrir square
Tahrir square (Photo: Mai Shaheen)

The almost unanimous calls for a national salvation demonstrations comes after three day of clashes between protesters and security forces, which have left 33 dead and more than a thousand injured.

Despite Egypt’s ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) efforts to dissuade protests by releasing a statement inviting all political forces to dialogue on the recent deadly clashes, apologised for the death of protesters and urged all Egyptians to show restraint, most of the country’s political forces have opted to go ahead with the planned protests.

Already dozens of Facebook pages popped up yesterday to invite protesters to join national salvation protest marches under the slogan “we are all one hand,” and issued four main demands:

1.      Immediate dismissal of Prime Minister Sharaf’s interim government, who resigned Monday night.

2.      Handing over of power to a national salvation government to administer the transitional period.

3.      Holding presidential elections by April 2012.

4.      Complete reform of the Ministry of Interior, including the dismantling of the State Security arm and the punishment of all those who participated in killing protesters.

Other demands include: a long-fought for ban of military trials for civilians; that the government assume the costs of treating all those injured during the clashes; for an independent, judicial committee to be formed to investigate the events of the last few days.

Already activists have organised several marches across Cairo, heading towards Tahrir Square.

The majority of the marches have begun at 2pm and are expected to arrive at the square by 4pm.

In Cairo alone there are four main marches with other smaller ones organised across the city.

The first march began in Shubra Square and includes activists from the Maspero Youth Union, the Revolutionary Youth Association and the Lotus Revolution Movement.

The second march headed out from the Mostafa Mahmoud Mosque in Mohandessin and includes activists from the Free Egyptian Party, the Egyptian Front Party, the Hamdeen Sabahi campaign and the Democratic Front Party.

The third march began from El Wahda Street in Imbaba and also includes activists from Sabahi’s campaign, as well as supporters of presidential candidate Mohamed ElBaradei, the Socialist Coalition Party and the Popular Coalition Party. The fourth march will begin from the Estekama Mosque in Giza and will include activists from the 6 of April Movement, Popular Committee and the National Revolutionary Front Movement. It will be joined by a march from the Cairo University, which will include revolutionary socialists and members of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party.

Other marches began in Ain Sham University, Dar El Hekma and Naheya Street.

Protesters are also expected to be marching in several governorates across Egypt, including Suez, Fayoum, Menoufiya, Minya, Arish and Gharbiya.

The April 6 Movement official spokesperson, Mahmoud Affifi, told Ahram Online that the movement will use all its forces in Tuesday’s protests in all of Egypt’s governorates and that most of the movement’s members have been in the square since the clashes began on Saturday.

The National Association for Change has also decided to join the protests and urged all political forces to head to Tahrir Square at 4pm today. The official spokesperson of the association, Ahmed Taha El Nakr, told Ahram Online that they also demand that security forces immediately desist from using violence against protesters.

The Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s biggest political force, however has opted not to join the mass protest. According to their political leg, the Freedom and Justice Party, their presence would “increase clashes and tension in the Egyptians street,” as per their statement released yesterday.

“Because we are careful not to drag the people into more bloody clashes, we ask all Egyptians to show wisdom, especially after it became obvious that there are people who are trying to ignite tensions by attacking protesters for three days,” said their statement.

They also gave the current violence in Egypt a religious slant, calling it a “sectarian crisis,” caused by the Ministry of Interior by allowing a security vacuum to spread across Egypt.

However, other Islamist groups have already confirmed their participation.

Al-Jamaa Al-Islamiya had previously expressed their disapproval of the protests, insisting that everyone should be focusing on the upcoming parliamentary elections.

The group has since backtracked and announced that they will join the protests because the attacks on protesters in Alexandria, Suez and Cairo represents an obvious attempt by “invisible hands to ruin the elections and spread chaos.”

The Islamist El-Wasat Party also announced that it will join today’s protest. In a statement released yesterday evening the party said they view the parliamentary elections as merely the midpoint in the journey to complete transferral of power. That journey, they state, will only be successful and complete when the military council hands over power to a civil authority by no later than 29 April.

“The military council no longer has constitutional, national or revolutionary legitimacy,” the coalition wrote on their Facebook page. “We will not relinquish our demand that the [military council] hand over power to a national salvation government.”

The Islamist Salafist El Nour Party will also participate in today’s demonstrations and marches.

Others participants include the supporters of presidential candidates Hamdeen Sabahi and Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, the Democratic Front Party, the El Wafd Party, the El Adl Party as well as the Egyptian Front Party, which lost two of its members during this week’s violent clashes.

Another women’s march will begin from the Doctor’s Syndicate on Qasr El-Aini Street. The march will include “activists, women and Egyptian mothers.”

Before the march protesters will commemorate the death of Bahaa El-Sanousy, a member of the Egyptian Front Party who was shot dead in Alexandria during the clashes.

“When the mother of Bahaa El-Sanousy found out about his death she ululated and said that her son died for what he believes in,” the group wrote on their Facebook page. “My dear Egyptian mothers: these things are not happening in Gaza or Palestine, but here in Egypt. If you are worried about your sons, husband and brothers; we want to tell you that it’s not death that you should worry about but the lost of dignity.”

A group of 13 political parties also held an emergency meeting on Monday night and vowed to join the protests.

They called for the ending of military trials for civilians and the immediate release of all those who have been detained by military prosecution. The group also put responsibility on the military council for what they called an unprecedented show of violence against protesters. Among those who signed are the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, the Free Egyptians Party, the Egyptian Communist Party and the Revolutionary Socialists.





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