In an attempt to end mounting polarisation between Egypt’s two political camps – Tahrir Square activists opposed to the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) and pro-SCAF demonstrators in Cairo’s Abbasiya district – a host of political parties and movements have begun issuing calls for a Friday rally devoted to “Conciliation for the love of Egypt.”
For the last several months, Cairo’s centrally located Tahrir Square has become the epicentre of anti-SCAF protests calling for the ruling military council to hand over power to an elected civilian authority. SCAF supporters, meanwhile, have held a number of counter-rallies in Cairo’s nearby Abbassiya Square to demand that the military council remain in power.
At a Tuesday press conference at Zamalek’s El Sawy CultureWheel, representatives of 15 parties and135 political movements appealed for a mass demonstration this Friday in Tahrir Square – to be dubbed the “Friday of Unity” – to call for reconciliation between the two opposing political camps.
Participants in the initiative issued a list of common demands, which include all outstanding demands of the January revolution; that all mass protests remain peaceful in nature; that differences of opinion are respected; that all forms of violence are rejected; that freedom of the press and judicial independence are guaranteed; and that Egypt remain a civil state.
The initiative also calls for the formation of an objective fact-finding committee – consisting of judges, rights experts and parliamentarians – tasked with investigating recent violent confrontations between protesters and security forces in and around Tahrir Square. The committee will further be tasked with ensuring that all those killed or injured during the January uprising are fairly compensated, and with investigating political groups that receive foreign funding.
The proposed Friday rally, however, has drawn considerable criticism from the leaders of both camps, many of whom express scepticism about the motives of those calling for the event. Notably, both Tahrir Square's April 6 youth movement and Abbasiya's Silent Majority Alliance have distanced themselves from the initiative.