Everything seems possible in “Second Day of Rage”

Ekram Ibrahim , Thursday 26 May 2011

Marches in Cairo, Alexandria and Suez and a sit-in in Tahrir are among activists' plans for Friday's day of rage

Tahrir square
Protesters chant anti-Mubarak slogans in Tahrir square in Cairo (Photo: Reuters)

Believing that Egypt has not witnessed revolutionary change, many Egyptian activists and revolutionaries are calling for a “Second Day of Rage” (referring to the first on 28 January) Friday at Tahrir square. “I haven’t felt the change; I’m heading to Tahrir,” repeated several activists on social media sites calling for the protest.

Some political forces announced their participation, other refused to take part and very few of those attending agree on the specific demands. The main callers for the Second Day of Rage remain unknown.

Activism criticizing the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) heated up this week as Egyptian bloggers organized a blogging day on 23 May against the SCAF in which more than 375 bloggers participated.

Many of the leading activist groups, including the 6 April Youth movement, the Coalition of Revolutionary Youth, Al-Masry Al-Hurr, ElBaradei Campaign, the Egyptian movement for change, the Maspero Copts movement, the Muslim Brotherhood Youth wing and expected presidential candidate Bothaina Kamel have all announced their intention to take part.

Moreover, on the Second Anger Egyptian Revolution Facebook page which is calling for Friday’s protest, 27,000 thousand confirmed their participation, five thousand indicated they may be attending and 18 thousand said they would not attend, by the time this article was published. The anonymous group announced they were collecting money to set up a stage in Tahrir square Friday so their identity will be revealed then.

The 6 April Youth movement was the first group to call on the Egyptian people to take to the streets, to “put pressure on the SCAF” to ensure the prosecution of former president Hosni Mubarak and other senior officials of his regime.

There is no one demand that unites all participants, but the chief ones are: replacing the military council with a presidential one that would rule the country until the coming elections, designing a new constitution before parliamentary elections, holding former regime figures and above all ousted president Hosni Mubarak accountable through prompt fair trials, releasing all political detainees arrested in the last three months by military police, ending the trials of civilians in military courts, abolishing the emergency law, and lifting censorship from state-owned media.

Regarding the plan for the day, the Coalition of Revolutionary Youth call the day “Friday of political corruption” to begin after Friday prayers at 1p.m. and end by 6p.m. However, 6 April movement and other independent activists are calling for a sit-in ending only when all demands are met.

Meanwhile, the Muslim Brotherhood and other less influential political groups refuse to take part in the protest. Among those groups are Free Egypt Coalition, Egypt Protesters Coalition, The Egyptian Awareness Coalition, Field Rescue Committee, Islamic Group and Tahrir Youth Party.

A statement released by the MB on the 27 May protest asked: “The Muslim Brotherhood group is very worried about Friday protests and we ask to whom is this anger directed now?”

The statement says the group sees these protests as either a revolution against the majority of the Egyptian people or a dispute between the Egyptian people and the military represented by the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF). They asked Egyptian people to stop this. 

The call for the protest was also rejected by many Salafist groups on Facebook who described the invitation as “a call for incitement and for sabotaging the country.”

For its part, the SCAF used several tactics to prevent people from joining the protest, from sending ousted president Mubarak and his two sons to criminal court, releasing statements on Facebook saying suspicious elements were asking people to protest and playing on the relationship between the people and the army, and finally on Thursday arresting activists leafleting about the 27 May protests.

In response to the SCAF statement (56) on Facebook, the Second Anger Egyptian Revolution Facebook group announced they would organize popular committees to protect Egyptian buildings as hospitals and police stations. “We are neither vandals nor suspicious elements; we are creating popular committees to protect the country,” according to their statement on Facebook.

Four activists were arrested on Wednesday and Thursday while leafleting for the second day of rage.  Activists were sent to military police, making people more angry and determined to participate in Friday’s protest. “Detaining activists leafleting for protests is similar to what used to take place during Mubarak’s era,” read a press statement issued by the 6 April movement commenting on the arrest of one of its members Wednesday while leafleting for 27 May.

Moreover, Facebook groups opposed to Friday’s protests (such as “we are all against second rage”) say protesters should respect the people’s vote against a presidential council, referring to the constitutional referendum on 19 March in which 77.2 per cent of Egyptians voted.

Outside Cairo, some governorates appear ready for Friday’s protest but for different reasons. In Alexandria, youth movements are going to protest for the sacking of the new governor and call for holding the police officers involved in killing protesters during the 25 January Revolution accountable.

In some governorates demands will be focused on dissolving local municipal councils dominated by former ruling National Democratic Party members.

In Suez the organizers of the protests say they will have shields to protect their march which they expect to be the biggest since the ouster of Mubarak. Other popular committees have been formed to protect public properties.

It is not clear how big the demonstrations will be this Friday but both supporters and detractors agree it will not be just another Friday march.

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