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Egypt revolution forces diverge over position towards the military

A press conference held by several of the forces involved in the Egyptian revolution in response to Tahrir violence ended in disarray, as the groups split over their position towards the military

Salma Shukrallah, Saturday 9 Apr 2011
Tahrir Square
An Egyptian protester installs barbed wire after clashes with the Egyptian army occurred during the night, in front of the Egyptian museum near Tahrir Square in Cairo (Photo: Reuters)
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Several opposition figures, including Essam El-Erian and Mohamed El-Beltagy, Muslim Brotherhood members, Amr Hamzawy, member of the Social Democratic Party, and George Isaac, presented at a conference Saturday a joint statement to represent the opposition's stance on the violent events that unfolded between the military and protesters earlier in the day, leaving at least one dead and tens injured. 

The conference, which was also attended by members of the Revolution Youth Coalition, rights and political activists, as well as journalists, turned tense after several criticised the statement and shouted that it did not represent the revolutionary youth.

The statement, read out loud by Isaac, started with the sentence “As representatives of the revolution we express regret regarding the violence that took place causing injuries and deaths” but stated the signatories were conscious of attempts to create tensions between the army and people. 

Isaac said that they urged unity within the army and asked the military to protect the revolution’s peaceful spirit and to achieve its demands. He added that the coalition between different political movements and the army is challenged in this transitory period by disagreements regarding the speed in former regime figures are being tried, but that trust should not be broken because that may lead to chaos. 

Isaac ended with a request to the military, which is “concerned about the revolution and which agrees on combating the counter-revolution”, to try the heads of the former regime while maintaining self-control when dealing with the “sometimes inexperienced youth” who might have created tensions in order to achieve the desired democratic nation.

As proof of attempts, allegedly, to create tension between the military and the people, Hussein Ibrahim, a Muslim Brotherhood member from Alexandria, said that the demonstration in Alexandira also included several who wanted to “verbally abuse certain institutions” and continue to sit-in, but that were rejected by most participating demonstrators. According to Ibrahim, there should be an agreement on what can be said and what should not.

Hamzawy replied to questions regarding who would be held accountable of the death and injuries, saying that the rule of law should be applied and that investigations need to take place to prove allegations first.

On the other hand, member of the Revolution Youth Coalition Nasser Abdelhamid said that the official stand of the coalition remains undecided since they have not yet met to discuss the events of Saturday morning but that they will discuss them within the hour. He added that yesterday’s crisis was partially a result of the absence of a civil council for the transitory period. 

On the other hand, Khaled Abdelhamid, another Youth Coalition member, added that the statement read out did not condemn in any way the violations that took place and did not talk of accountability. “There is now blood between the army and the people,” Khaled added. Khaled’s statements were met with much cheering from the audience while many of the coalition got up to leave in objection to the statement presented.

Anger mounted up even more in the hall when Amr Shawky, an eyewitness and victim of the violence which took place in Tahrir, stated that “We saw three of the officers with us shot and killed. Many of us were severely beaten, including me. With all due respect to the political figures and leaders present, you do not represent us. You should have come and asked us what happened before talking on our behalf." 

Rights activist Ahmed Seif El-Islam, added shouting, “It is not the first incidence of violations by the military, but the third. We just want the army to leave!”

Following Shawky and Seif El-Islam’s statements the hall descending into chaos as many started shouting, criticising the written statement and condemning those who wrote it.

The attempt to create a unified stand between all opposition has left it more divided over the army’s actions and the decisions of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces.

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