"Final Friday" protest underway in Tahrir; thousands march to defence ministry in Abbasiya

Ahram Online, Friday 4 May 2012

Demonstrators march to Abbasiya in protest of ruling military council, while thousands flock to Tahrir to join Brotherhood demonstration, both in solidarity with a week-long sit-in outside Ministry of Defense

Protestors in Tahrir (Photo: Mai Shaheeen)

"Final Friday" protests and marches against the ruling military council are underway in two separate parts of Cairo, in response to Wednesday's bloody attack by unknown assailants on a sit-in outside the Ministry of Defense, that left over seven protesters dead and tens injured.

Hundreds have already flocked to Tahrir Square, heeding the call by the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) to protest against the deaths of protesters on Wednesday and to express dissatisfaction with the recent practices by the ruling military council.

Three separate stages have been set up by the supporters of the Brotherhood, supporters of the banned Salafist presidential hopeful Hazem Salah Abu-Ismail, and the "Non-affiliated Revolutionaries".

The groups which support the Brotherhood's demonstration in Tahrir include the liberal parties Ghad Al-Thawra, as well as the Islamist Reform and Development Party and Al-Jamaa Al-Islamiya. MPs from both the lower and upper houses of ‎parliament will also participate.

Meanwhile, 15 political groups including the April 6 Youth Movement, the Revolution Youth Coalition, the National Front for Justice and Democracy and the Youth for Justice and Freedom, called for marches to the Ministry of Defense also in solidarity with the week-long sit-in at the military headquarters.

Also supporting the marches are the Popular Committees to Defend the Revolution, the Egyptian Current Party, the Second Egyptian Revolution Movement, the Popular Socialist Popular Alliance and the Alliance of Revolutionary Forces.

Thousands are already marching from six main locations across Cairo including Fateh mosque in Ramses, the Nour mosque in Abbasiya, the Khazandarah mosque in Shubra, Rabea El-Adawiya mosque in Madinat Nasr, Youssef El-Sahabi mosque in Helipolis and Tahrir Square.

Presidential candidates Khaled Ali and Abdel-Moneim Abul-Fotouh are expected to join.

Many groups across the political spectrum have blamed the military  for Wednesday's deaths, claiming that the army failed to intervene to protect protesters during the attack.

The Brotherhood, in an statement on its official website Thursday, said that as de facto ruler of the country, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, is ultimately "responsible for what is happening in this country."  

The coalition of political parties who support the Brotherhood's demonstration in Tahrir announced their demands, which include the end of the military regime and the repeal of Article 28 of the March 2011 Constitutional Declaration which gives the Supreme Presidential Electoral Commission immunity from appeal . They are also calling for an independent body of judges, who were not appointed by the former regime, to monitor the upcoming presidential elections.

The Brotherhood, for its part, announced online Thursday that they are joining would return to Tahrir to "express their rejection of SCAF tactics and manoeuvres, and to condemn the killings and criminal attacks committed against the Egyptian people."

In a six point list of demands the Islamist group called for the immediate cessation of the use of force and violence against demonstrators in Abbasiya and the arrest and punishment of the thugs responsible.

They also demanded the removal of the current government, the end to SCAF interference in the drafting of the constitution, that the presidential elections be held on the time and for power to be handed over to a civilian authority by 30 June 2012.

Despite rumours that the Salafist Nour Party would be officially attending, Nour party spokesperson Nader Bakkar announced on his Facebook page Thursday that they would not be at the protests as "participation may lead to more blood."

The Salafist political wing have repeatedly distanced themselves from the Abbasiya-long sit-in, telling Ahram Online Thursday that they were not officially present during Wednesday's clashes.

They also added that the supporters of the banned presidential contender Abu-Ismail, who have been camping outside the military headquarters, are not "linked" to the party.

Mohamed Samy, head of the Nasserist Karama Party announced that they will neither join Tahrir's protest nor march to the defense ministry as this will "lead to more bloodshed and tension." He added that there was nothing "new" in the political scene that would warrant a protest.

 In a Thursday press conference, a ruling military council spokesperson stated that people have the right to protest peacefully but these protests should take place in Tahrir Square. They warned that that protesting elsewhere, in particular at the military facility, could endanger protesters.

 Hundreds have been camping outside the military headquarters since last Friday, calling for the end of the military regime as well as in protest of the ban on presidential hopeful Abu-Ismail.

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