VIDEO: Anti-Morsi activists take Egypt's 'Rebel' signature drive underground

Nada Hussein Rashwan, Wednesday 26 Jun 2013

Egypt's anti-government 'Rebel' campaign appears to receive warm welcome from Cairo metro passengers, despite fears that upcoming 30 June rallies will be accompanied by violence

'Rebel campaign' reaches Cairo's underground (Photo: Mayada Wadnomiry)

On Tuesday evening, five members of the Tamarod ('Rebel') petition campaign to withdraw confidence from President Mohamed Morsi received a warm reception from passengers on the platform of a downtown Cairo metro station.

Members of the campaign, each holding petition papers in one hand and an anti-Morsi poster in the other, were joined by around 50 passengers who started chanting along.

The 'Rebel' campaign was initiated last May. It is supported by the National Salvation Front (NSF), Egypt's most comprehensive opposition umbrella group, in addition to several Islamists groups who disapprove of Muslim Brotherhood rule.

The campaign hopes to collect 15 million signatures in support of a vote of no confidence in President Morsi. This would exceed the 13.2 million votes with which Morsi won Egypt's June 2012 presidential election, the first since Mubarak's ouster in 2011.

Egypt is bracing for the highly anticipated anti-government protests on 30 June, called for by 'Rebel' campaigners, to demand the president's resignation and snap elections.

The campaign accuses Morsi, who hails from the Muslim Brotherhood, of "failing to implement policies to improve the life of ordinary people," citing Egypt's increasingly dire economic situation.

"Rebel" announced earlier this week that it would hold rallies inside Cairo’s metro on Tuesday and Wednesday in the run up to 30 June. Many metro passengers who were stopped by campaign members told them they had already signed the petition.

Yasser Samahi, a 35-year-old stock exchange employee, who said he signed the 'Rebel' petition when it was first launched, believes Morsi has neglected Egypt's deteriorating economic conditions and focused only on establishing a "Brotherhood regime."

"Even though the opposition is not eligible to take over power, we must remove the Brotherhood regime," he told Ahram Online. "The solution is for the army to take over power for six months, during which it would review the drafting of a new constitution and appoint a technocratic government to be led by a qualified economist."

Earlier this week, Egyptian Defence Minister Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi declared that the military would intervene to stop the nation from entering a "dark tunnel" of violence and internecine strife.

Some observers interpreted El-Sisi's comments as meaning that the army intended to intervene in Egypt's ongoing political crisis, especially in the event that nationwide anti-government protests – slated for next Sunday – turned violent.

The Egyptian presidency then denied the existence of any rift with the military, asserting that "all the country's institutions are keen on upholding democratic legitimacy."

Not everyone, however, voiced support for the anti-Morsi campaign.

Fifty-two-year old restaurant manager Omar Abu Hagar, who was called on to sign the petition, told 'Rebel' members that their campaign was "illegal".

"I am not an Islamist, but those who elected the president chose him for a four-year term, and he's barely starting out," he said.

Morsi narrowly beat Mubarak's last prime minister, Ahmed Shafiq, one year ago in the first presidential elections after the 25 January uprising.

"The opposition is bitter because they did not take a piece of the cake, so they boycotted the president instead of helping him rebuild the country," said Abu Hagar. "This is a very critical time for Egypt; if the president leaves now, no one else will be ready to replace him but Shafiq. We can't let that happen after all we've been through."

Hundreds of thousands of Islamist supporters of President Morsi held a mass demonstration in Cairo on Friday in response to the widely anticipated 30 June protests.

The same Islamist parties that had organised Friday's rally, led by the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, announced they would hold an open-ended sit-in on Friday, in a development that has raised concerns over possible violent confrontations between the two camps.

"God be with 'Tamarod' on Sunday. I just hope it remains peaceful," 23-year-old Shaimaa told her friend as they waited for the train.

"But it won't," he replied. "There will likely be blood."

Mohamed Abdel-Aziz, activist and co-founder of 'Rebel,' had earlier told Ahram Online that the campaign was "close" to gathering its targeted 15 million signatures.


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