Friday, 28 June 2013

Protests begin against Islamism in Egypt

Inspired no doubt by the protests against Erdogan in Turkey, democrats and secularists in Egypt have begun a series of protests in advance of a mass demonstration on Sunday, the first anniversary of the election of Muslim Brotherhood President Morsi.

As I write Sky News is reporting that protesters have attacked the offices of the Muslim Brotherhood in Alexandria and set it on fire. At last one person has already been killed and 70 injured in what is heading to be a major confrontation in one of the most populous Muslim countries in the Middle East.

The parallels between Turkey and Egypt are clear for all to see. What the opposition objects to is the imposition of a conservative form of Islam in peoples private lives, as well as the rushed through Islamic orientated new constitution imposed on the country by Morsi.

Signs of growing disquiet have already been seen as demonstrations have successfully brought down the Morsi appointed Governor of Luxor. The Daily Telegraph reported earlier this week that:

Adel el-Khayat stepped down from his role yesterday in an attempt to stop further “bloodshed” after his appointment a week ago prompted fierce clashes between his supporters and opponents outside his offices. The row is a setback for Egypt’s new Islamist president, Mohammed Morsi, who had selected him for the post.
However, the resignation is unlikely to pacify critics of Mr Morsi, who faces a stern test this Sunday when Egypt’s secular opposition plans huge protests aimed at forcing him from office.
The report continues:

Mr Khayat’s Construction and Development party is the political wing of Gamaa Islamiya, which carried out one of Egypt’s worst terrorist atrocities when its members opened fire on tourists at Luxor’s 3,400-year-old Hatsheput Temple in November 1997. The 62 dead included six Britons, among them a grandmother, her daughter and five-year-old granddaughter.

Mr Khayat, whose party was among dozens of hard-line Islamist factions to emerge after the fall of President Hosni Mubarak in 2011, was among 17 provincial governors appointed by Mr Morsi, whose Muslim Brotherhood party sees them as part of its bedrock of religious support.
But the appointment drew condemnation from secularists, and outraged businessmen in Luxor, who feared it would jeopardise the city’s efforts to rebuild itself as a tourist centre, and lead to bans on selling alcohol. Tour guides and restaurateurs — already suffering from a slump in business since Mr Mubarak’s fall — set up barricades around government buildings last week and painted the gate with a sign: “No entry for terrorists.”
These complaints sound very similar to those made by Turkish secularists when Erodogan also sought to impose restrictions on the sale of alcohol and clampdowns on "public displays of affection". There are far too many people in both countries that have moved away from the restrictive conservative practises that the Islamists seek to impose.

There are similarities in the possible role of the military in both countries. The army in Turkey has always seen itself as the upholder of the secular state founded by Kemel Ataturk. So far they have kept out of the conflict, though one report I read suggested soldiers were seen handing out gas masks to people on early protests. The Egyptian army has so far kept out of the conflict, though they appear to be on hand as reports on Sky suggest that tanks have been assembled on the outskirts of Cairo.

The role of trade unionists was pivotal in Turkey and should be in Egypt as well. The Equal Times website has published a report which outlines the following:

Two years on from the revolution that ousted Hosni Mubarak, democracy still eludes Egypt.
Independent trade unions are suppressed; street children are arrested and tortured; female protesters are attacked; and dissident voices are being silenced.
  • ILO must support Egyptian workers’ fight for freedom
  • Children detained and tortured by security forces
  • No press freedom under Morsi
  • Women say ‘no more’ to Tahrir square violence
Go to:

Trade unionists in the UK and around the world should give their full support to the Egyptian protesters in their struggle against clerical fascism .

At the same time we must not forget the struggles also taking place in Tunisia as well as Turkey.

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