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Wednesday, 11 December 2019

Friday's protest leaves activists divided

From the left to the right, Friday's downtown protests against the Muslim Brotherhood have faced criticism by some as being vague, ill-conceived and using the same terminology as protests by old regime remnants

Randa Ali , Saturday 1 Sep 2012
Several thousand march in downtown against Muslim Brotherhood domination urging for revolution goals (Photo:Mai Shaheen)
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As thousands of protesters gathered in Talaat Harb Square Friday to voice protest against what they deem the Muslim Brotherhood's domination of Egypt's political institutions, activists were divided between those who see the protest as a crucial step in building a cohesive opposition, and those who see it as an incoherent and incorrect move.

"I expected it to be bigger, but it's good that people are starting to go back to the streets, especially those with a socialist and secular way of thinking," poet Ibrahim Daoud told Ahram Online.

Friday's protests witnessed strong partcipation from the Kefaya Movement, the Revolutionary Socialists and the Egyptian Communist parties, along with some independent activists and artists.

Daoud, who is co-founder of Authors and Artists for Change, accused the Muslim Brotherhood of not doing anything until now but embracing an economic and political agenda that he finds threatening.

"They're using the agenda of the IMF. Their only relation with the poor is through charity," added Daoud.

The poet stated that protests will go on until the Brotherhood does something. "Then we will salute them," he said.

Protesters also demanded the release of prisoners detained for political reasons, implementing a minimum wage and refusing the IMF loan. Many, however, voiced displeasure with the protests and claimed they represented only the Left and had no relation to the people.

Socialist activist Gehan Shabaan expressed her frustration with the protest for being anti-Brotherhood, saying that calling for an elected person or body to step down would only isolate protesters from the people.

"The revolution won't prevail with red flags. It will prevail when the holders of the flag persuade the masses to organise and lead the revolution," said Shabaan on Twitter.

Shaaban believes the 'leftist' labelling of the protest will not benefit anyone but leftists themselves.

"You'll win the people when your issues are the IMF loans, those detained and the minimum wages," said the socialist activist.

Meanwhile Socialist figure Kamal Khalil, who called for Friday's protest, refused to describe it as a "leftist protest."

"The protest was not a leftist protest; it is the protest of revolutionaries, and the left is only one part of those revolutionaries," said Khalil.

Khalil told Ahram Online that there is "another party that is claiming those protests to be leftist, only to isolate the people from it."

However, the well-known Islamist blogger known on Twitter as Moneim described the protest as a method by which the left "relieves frustration over their weakness."

"The tens in Talaat Harb Square are not felool — remnants of the old regime — they're only weak forces that know that they will fail to compete and so decided to release their feeling of weakness."

Moneim adds that protesting against the Muslim Brotherhood should be through competing against them in the elections, describing present forces as "a trivial opposition that doesn't want to connect with the people and chooses to play the victim."

Shaymaa Hasabou, a political researcher at the College de France who also took part in Friday's protest, stated that the chants against the Brotherhood were nothing new."It has been going on since January 2012 in protest of the Muslim Brotherhood's support for SCAF," she said.

"Chanting against the Brotherhood is not wrong, but we don’t want to fall in the same trap of demanding the stepping down of Mubarak without knowing what to do next and starting to look further," added Hasabou.

Hasabou further emphasised that what is crucial now is understanding how the demands of the protest could be implemented in serious steps, adding that while the protest was small in comparison to protests held before, it still could "reflect a potential for an opposition, as the leftists were able to gather this amount of people in a very short time."

Activist Ahmed Imam, a member of the National Front for Defending the Revolution, a front that backed President Mohamed Morsi during the runoffs against rival Ahmed Shafiq, told Ahram Online he didn't participate in the protests.

"I thought the demands were not clear and I had a problem with the term 'Brotherhoodisation' of the state. It is a very vague term," said Imam who added that the protests held by "remnants of the Mubarak regime on 24 August were using the same terminology."

"Brotherhoodisation of a state" is term circulating of late, used by figures that fear Muslim Brotherhood hegemony on political life in Egypt.

"If it wasn't for that demand I would have joined. I strongly agreed with all the other demands," Iman said.

"Yes, I am against the domination of any current in Egypt. The country is for everyone. But I am also for giving a chance to an elected president and his party," added Imam.

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