Might Egypt be in for Long-term Instability?
After hundreds answer his calls for demonstrations, a self-exiled businessman seeks mass rally to protest alleged corruption by Sisi regime
Following protests on Friday and Saturday in a number of cities in Egypt, a self-exiled Egyptian contractor has called for a march involving a million citizens this coming Friday if President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has not yet resigned.
In a video broadcast, Spain-based Mohamed Ali, who has accused Sisi and the Egyptian military establishment of corruption, urged people in Egypt to protest against injustice and fight for their freedom. In response, associates of Sisi have accused Ali of fostering a “conspiracy to overthrow the state.”
Mohamed Gomaa, an Egyptian political analyst and writer, told The Media Line that a rally on Friday “won’t succeed.” In addition, he said some of the news reports of last weekend’s protests were exaggerated and inaccurate.
“All of the published videos and images used by Muslim Brotherhood media platforms were incorrect. Old material from 2011 and 2012 was employed,” Gomaa claimed, referring to the Arab Spring demonstrations that ousted longtime strongman Hosni Mubarak.
Social media showed videos of demonstrations on September 20, including large crowds disrupting traffic in the cities of Alexandria and Suez, as well as in Mahalla and Damietta in the Nile Delta.
Gomaa insists that the total number of Egyptians protesting last weekend was less than a thousand.
“Next Friday’s rally won’t have momentum,” he said. “It won’t have enough people because those who support it come from what is left of the Muslim Brotherhood and other radical groups in Egypt.”
He acknowledges that some Egyptians are resentful about the government’s economic reforms but says this does not mean that a majority want to topple the government.”
“What Al Jazeera and the Muslim Brotherhood media are publishing doesn’t reflect what is really happening on the ground. It is incorrect,” Gomaa insisted.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry condemned the “incitement of Turkish and Qatari media outlets against the Egyptian state, and their invitation to Egyptians to participate in demonstrations in support of chaos.”
During a telephone interview from New York with an Egyptian TV station, Shoukry said that “the incitement will be rejected and will be in vain, and will not receive any response inside Egypt.”
An Egyptian protester who spoke to The Media Line on condition of anonymity said the rally planned for Friday would be “important” in bringing down the current system in Egypt, adding that people “refuse to hand over their country” to the military.
“We are demanding the establishment of a joint presidential council between civilians and jurists for no more than three months, followed by the nomination of candidates… who would then compete in an election,” the protester said.
In a series of videos posted online, Ali has accused Sisi and the army of spending millions on wasteful extravagances such as palaces, villas and hotels. For his part, the president told a recent youth conference that allegations of corruption within the army and the government were “lies and slander” amounting to defamation.
Ali Abd Al-Hameed, an Egyptian political activist based in Cairo, told The Media Line that the upcoming rally “won’t be a success,” calling Ali’s plan “weird” and describing it as hypocritical.
“I’m a bit shocked that a contractor who practiced corruption is calling for an end to it,” Hameed said. “He is an element of corruption in the country and [has] benefited from it. Has he regained his conscience now?”
Hameed said he “supports any movement that helps Egyptians reform the situation in the country based on ending injustice and tyranny, as well as promoting popular participation in the political process.” He called last weekend’s protests an attempt to “break the intimidation that has been practiced by the Egyptian government for several years,” adding that Ali was “taking advantage of the desire of the masses to live safely.”
The Egyptian Interior Ministry has refused to acknowledge any arrests at the protests although the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms, a non-governmental organization, said eight people had been arrested in Mansoura, 20 in Mahalla, 19 in Cairo and Alexandria, and an unknown number in other cities.