Thousands of anti-SCAF activists approach defence ministry

Sherif Tarek , Friday 10 Feb 2012

At least 10 marches are en route for defence ministry in Cairo's Abbasiya district to demand immediate end of military rule

Protesters gather in Shubra for MOD march
Forty Egyptian parties and movements have called for today's 'Friday of Determination,' demanding the immediate transferal of power to a civil authority (Photo: Mai Shaheen)

Thousands of activists have set out on planned marches to Egypt's defence ministry in Cairo's Abbasiya district from meeting points throughout the capital to call for an immediate transfer of executive power to a civil authority. 

Some protesters have reportedly already arrived in Abbasiya, while the ministry building itself remains surrounded by military personnel, armoured vehicles, concrete walls and barbed wire.

According to one Ahram Online reporter, only a couple hundred activists showed up for the march from Shubra Al-Kheima. These are set to be joined by another couple hundred marching from Ramses Square.

At least ten different marches have been planned to set out from the following locations: Youssef Al-Sahabi Mosque in Hegaz Square; Rabaa Al-Adaweya Mosque in Nasr City; Matariya Square, Alf Maskan Square and Sheikh Mosque in Hadayek Al-Kobba; Cleopatra Church in Heliopolis; Al-Fath Mosque in Ramses Square; Al-Khazindar Mosque in Shubra; Orabi Bridge in Shubra Al-Kheima; and Al-Nedir Mosque in Al-Zawiya Al-Hamra.

Activists assembled at these meeting points at midday from which they set out for the defence ministry following Friday prayers.

Friday sermons appeared to reveal conflicting opinions among local clerics regarding a planned civil-disobedience campaign slated for Saturday. While some local imams appeared to believe the campaign would adversely impact Egypt's already-ailing economy, others blamed the SCAF for leaving the public with no option but to push for its demands via demonstrations and protest marches.

Revolutionary groups have called for the civil-disobedience campaign to demand that the SCAF hand over executive power to a civil authority.

A planned anti-SCAF march on the defence ministry in July of last year was thwarted when military police sealed all entrances to Abbasiya. The march eventually led to limited clashes between protesters and security forces.

Tahrir Square, meanwhile, remained relatively calm, hosting only small pockets of activists, who repeated chants against military rule. At least one entrance to the square remained blocked by barbed wire fences and concrete blocks, recently erected by security forces. Shortly after midday, protesters opened several of these entrances to allow cars to pass.

Protesters repeated chants against Egypt's ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) from the square's solitary podium, calling for the military council's immediate departure.  

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