Twenty six political groups will halt Tahrir sit-in during Ramadan

Ahram Online, Sunday 31 Jul 2011

Cairo's summer heat, combined with fasting during Ramadan, brings 26 political groups to suspend their part in the Tahrir Square sit-in, while listing plans for continued activities

Tahrir Square
A general view of protesters at Tahrir Square (Photo: Reuters)

A group of 26 political parties and movements have announced that they will temporarily suspend their Tahrir Square sit-in during the holy month of Ramadan, which commences on 1 August.

The group released a joint statement at 1:00am on Sunday, that read that they will end the sit-in during the month of fasting, but will use “diverse methods to put pressure towards achieving the rest of the goals [of the revolution], starting with the demands of the families of the martyrs and the civilians who are put on military trials.”

However, it is believed that the square will not be completely emptied, since the families of martyrs and several small political groups calling to an end to military trials for civilians have announced that they plan to remain during Ramadan.

Witnesses in Tahrir Square have reported that the tents erected by the protesters in the grassy islands in the square are being moved towards the one in front of Mogamaa, the huge administration building on the edge of the square, signalling that the square may be finally opened for traffic after protesters have blocked it for weeks.

The square has been occupied by protesters since 8 July “Friday of Determination,” mass protests after families of martyrs clashed with police forces in front of the ministry of interior headquarters and the Balloon Theatre in Aguza on 28 June. The protest continued into a three-week tent-city sit-in reminiscent of the initial 18 days of Egypt’s revolution, although the number of protesters since then has fluctuated.

Those protesters will likely face difficulties during the month-long Ramadan, especially since the temperature in Cairo is debilitating and many may struggle if they withhold from drinking water and eating, as the Islamic fast stipulates. There was even talk that mass taraweeh prayers (special prayers held in Ramadan) will be held in the square. But, now, with one day to go before the first post-Mubarak Ramadan begins, many political parties have decided to back away for the time being.

“Indeed we have not fulfilled all of our demands, which made us stage this sit-in,” the group said in the statement. “But because we believe that the sit-in is a tool, not an aim, and with the advent of the holy month of Ramadan...all political parties and youth movements have decided to temporarily suspend the sit-in during all of Ramadan.”

In the statement released the group kept the morale of the revolution, pointing out that many goals have been reached during the second wave of the revolution, which was launched on 8 July.

“This protest was successful in it's gains, which pushed the Egyptian revolution forward in efforts to complete its full journey and achieve the rest of its goals,” the statement said. “This second wave has proven the ability of the revolutionary masses to return at any time and stage a sit-in.”

The second wave, the statement read, has also succeeded in pushing the ruling military council and the interim government to announce which courts will try the corrupt members of the old regime and those who killed the protesters in public and expedite the trials.

However, the groups stressed that they plan to resume the sit-in following Eid (the celebration day that ends Ramadan). During Ramadan however, they will continue to press for their demands through other means, such as holding the “Daily Revolutionary Awareness Ramadan,” gatherings which will raise awareness about the rights of the families of martyrs.

Another technique they plan to employ during Ramadan is a campaign called “We will get them,” in which political activists will work to expose and shame the police officers responsible for killing protesters during the revolution in the suburbs where they live and in front of the police stations where they work.

They will also create a national front made up of volunteer lawyers to give legal aid to the families of the martyrs who have pending lawsuits.

In line with that, the coalitions will launch a campaign to compile data about all the civilians who have been put on military trials and fight for their release along with their families. It’s also a move to call for an end to military trials and retry all civilians who have already appeared before military courts.

The group plans to have Ramadan iftar (the meal that breaks the fast) events throughout the month.

Among those who signed the statement are the Revolutionary Youth Coalition, the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, El Karama Party, Free Egyptians Party, the Democratic Front Party, Freedom Egypt Party, El Tagammu Party, the Popular Alliance Party, the Independent Campaign to Support ElBaradei and the 6th of April Movement.

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