Escalation on cards as bombings add fuel to fire ahead of revolution's anniversary

Sherif Tarek, Osman El Sharnoubi, Saturday 25 Jan 2014

Many political groups still intend to mark the 2011 revolution's third anniversary with celebrations and demonstrations, despite deadly bombings

Tahrir Square
Egyptian army soldiers in armored vehicles block Tahrir Square in Cairo (Photo: AP)

Four deadly terrorist attacks in Greater Cairo on Friday seem to have added insult to injury ahead of the anticipated third anniversary of the 2011 revolution, with conflicting parties poised for escalations.

Continuing attempts to gain supporters for its planned demonstrations on Saturday's anniversary, the Muslim Brotherhood claimed that "most people have put their differences aside and are calling to revive the 25 January 2011 revolution."

The Brotherhood, deemed a terrorist organisation by the Egyptian government, added that the sporadic bombings were meant to "dismantle the unity of the people.”

Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim had however encouraged citizens to "celebrate" the anniversary after liberal political groups like the Wafd Party and Free Egyptians Party, along with Tamarod, the group which spearheaded the protests leading to Morsi's ouster at the hands of the army, have called for Egyptians to join festivities on Saturday in Tahrir Square.

After the bombings, Ibrahim assured that terrorists will not ruin the planned celebrations and assured they will be secure.

Friday's violence began at dawn, when a truck bomb ripped through Cairo's central police headquarters, killing four and injuring 76 others, according to the health ministry.

Hours later in Giza, one person was killed when a primitive bomb exploded after being thrown at a moving police vehicle near a metro station, deputy Giza security chief Mahmoud Farouk told state-run TV. At least 11 others were reportedly wounded in the attack.

In a third explosion later on Friday morning, a small bomb went off at a police station in Talbiya district, near the pyramids in Giza. No casualties were reported from the attack, according to the interior ministry.

The day's fourth attack, however, a small bomb that detonated near the Giza Security Directorate, killed one and injured another, bring the bombing death toll to six.

Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis (Partisans of Jerusalem), an Al-Qaeda-inspired group, has claimed responsibility for Friday’s terrorist attack at Cairo's police headquarters. The group, which has claimed the deadliest militant attacks in Egypt following Morsi's ouster, has warned Egyptians in a statement not to take to the streets on Saturday.

The group has claimed a host of other attacks – a failed assassination attempt on the interior minister in Cairo last September, along with rocket attacks directed at Israel and dozens of attacks in 2012 on a gas pipeline linking Egypt, Jordan and Israel.Yet even after the day's violence, some groups remain determined to celebrate the revolution's anniversary.The Tamarod movement said that it was “still reviving the anniversary" despite the actions of a "terrorist group."


The Brotherhood, which has been staging near-daily protests since Morsi's ouster, aims to make the most of the revolution's anniversary on Saturday by reversing what it describes as a coup.

Pulling back from its normal antagonism against its opponents, the group issued a statement earlier this week calling for unity. It also took the first step towards admitting past wrongdoings, insisting that it had been mistaken in "assuming good intent" when the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) handed power to the group following the 2012 presidential elections, which saw the Brotherhood-affiliated Morsi elected as president.

The Brotherhood has been repeatedly attacked by its opponents for remaining silent during the many clashes that occurred with the police and army during SCAF’s brief rule. Some of these groups will take part in tomorrow’s protests, insisting that they refuse to coordinate with the Brotherhood.

The Path of the Revolution Front, a coalition of several political groups such as the Revolutionary Socialists, the liberal 6 April Youth Movement and the Strong Egypt Party led by former Brotherhood leader Abdel-Moneim Abul-Fotouh, plan to hold demonstrations on Saturday along with other independent activists and advocacy groups,

The coalition has condemned both the interim government and the Brotherhood. In a statement published on Wednesday, it accused the current regime of attempting to destroy the 25 January Revolution and insisted that it will protest on Saturday in order to “reclaim” the ideals which initially brought Egyptians to the streets in 2011.

The coalition is organising two main marches that will converge on Tahrir Square, where celebrations will take place, said the Front's founding member Mohamed Ibrahim in an interview with Ahram Online.

Ibrahim insisted that his group has not coordinated with the Brotherhood and that the Front’s plans have been unaffected by the bombings.

On the sidelines

Several political forces had already decided not to hit the streets prior to Friday’s attacks. Parties known to advocate the demands of the 25 January Revolution had chosen not to directly call for celebrations or protests.

An example is the Egyptian Social Democratic Party (ESDP), the party of Egypt’s interim Prime Minister Hazem El-Beblawi.

ESDP senior member Atef Adly told Al-Ahram's Arabic website that the party won’t participate so as to avoid any possible clashes with the Brotherhood. Adly stressed, though, that the anniversary is an important day, and said that his party organised visits to those injured in the revolution and the families of those who were martyred.

The Salafist Nour Party had likewise advised Egyptians not to join Saturday's celebrations or demonstrations, expressing fears that all gatherings will inevitably lead to bloody clashes.

Also showing reservations about Saturday's participation was the liberal Constitution Party, founded by prominent Egyptian politician Mohamed El-Baradei, who broke ties with both the party and the current government in protest against the degree of violence used in clearing out the two pro-Morsi camps last August.

The party released a statement on Thursday condemning what it said were attempts to re-consolidate Mubarak’s police state and political influence, and calling on interim President Adly Mansour to revise a recently-passed protest law, which it blamed for the current detention of political activists who took part in the 25 January Revolution as well as the 30 June uprising against Morsi.

The party's media secretary Khaled Dawoud told Ahram Online that the party will not participate in the celebrations and that it has not called for people to join protests.

He said, however, that the party's youth will participate in protests organised by the Path of the Revolution Front. 

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