Anger and chaos in First Conference of Egypt opening session

Ahram Online, MENA, Saturday 7 May 2011

Spurred by controversial statements by some speakers, Egypt's first national conference for political forces of the January 25 Revolution degenerated into chaos with angry slogans chanted

The First ‎Conference of Egypt
The First ‎Conference of Egypt opening session. Photographer: Bassam El-Zoghby

Over 3000 activists from across the political spectrum called during the First ‎Conference of Egypt for ‎the release of detainees who have been held captive since the January 25 Revolution, and ‎disparaged the referral of civilians to military courts. Some speeches stirred anger on social network sites. ‎
The protesters started to chant their demands right after Minister of Local Governance ‎Mohsen Al-Nomani took to the podium to give a speech.‎ The angry attendees, who also chanted against new legislation criminalising sit-ins and ‎strikes, interrupted Al-Nomani three times. ‎

‎“No military trials for civilians!”, “We want our detained brothers!” and “The legitimacy ‎belongs to the revolution and the people!” were among the slogans that echoed at the ‎Cairo International Conference Centre.‎

Despite recurrent interruptions, Al-Nomani finished his speech, during which he ‎underlined that the interim government’s role is to ensure a smooth transition of power.‎

On the other hand, Tahani Al-Gebali, the first Egyptian female judge, gave speech that ‎touched on several sensitive and controversial issues, and which drew sharp criticism against ‎her on Twitter.‎

She stressed that Islamic Sharia is the only legitimate jurisprudence, which contradicts ‎with the principles of liberals and Copts who want the nation to be civic and not religious based.‎

Al-Gebali also highlighted the importance of the ruling military council’s responsibility to ‎protect the civic nation, also another highly debatable topic.‎

Around 2500 were expected to attend the first session of the conference, whose slogan ‎was “The people defend their revolution,” but the number ‎of actual attendees was in the ‎area of 4000.‎ ‎

Most Egyptian political forces are taking part in the event, except the Muslim ‎Brotherhood, who decided to snub the conference despite their willingness to be present ‎at the official, government-sponsored national dialogue.

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