In the wake of the successful toppling of two presidents, calls for protest in Egypt have become all too common. Various organizations have called for demonstrations over the past four years but, due to the recent passing of an anti-protest law, these groups have found themselves marginalized by failing to reach the numbers of dissenters required to force change which has often resulted in arrests as well as fatalities. The latest call for protest is brought to you by the Salafi Front, which is an Islamist political organization that has been actively promoting for the 28th of November to commence the “Muslim Youth Uprising.” This call for action has triggered paranoia through fears that this could bring about further instability, so the following is a public service announcement to illustrate the facts about Friday’s upcoming protest.
This call for protest from the Salafi Front was triggered by the “secular attempts to weaken the Islamic identity and Sharia.” With the presented fear for a backlash against all Salafists, the Nour Party (the Salafist political wing) last week publicly announced their rejection for the the planned protests by counter suggesting that their members would form a human chain in Suez to show their active condemnation. Another major Egyptian Salafist group, The Salafist Call, has also publicly denounced the protest with the released statement saying “It has become clear that the purpose of the protests is to exhaust the state.”
With the Salafist groups divided along with the recent anti-protest legislature, it seems as if this protest could perhaps amount to nothing, but what are the other factors? The remnants of the now-defunct Muslim Brotherhood have endorsed the call for the “Muslim Youth Uprising,” despite their lack of agreeing to participate. It is not surprising that they endorsed the protest due to the fact that the majority of demonstrations after Morsi’s removal Morsi were lead by them. However, the fact that the Muslim Brotherhood have backed the Salafist call is quite peculiar for this group was a crucial supporting element that was partially responsible for the overthrow of Morsi. “The Muslim Brotherhood endorses this call for protests to preserve the nation’s islamic identity, which the Egyptian people including the Muslim Brotherhood have fought for,” a statement by the movement on Sunday said.
In an attempt to encourage pious Muslims to demonstrate, The Salafist Front is asking all protestors to bring a Quran and to “hold it up during their planned action.” Fearing that another group is twisting the religion of Islam in order to promote their own political agenda, Al Azhar have strongly condemned the calls by releasing a statement that reiterates the fact that these protests “deceive Muslims in the name of religion; they are a call for chaos and for [disrespecting] the Quran.”
At this point, it appears that there are more people that are against the call for action than there are people for promoting it. In attempts to change this fact, a slew of videos have been released online with various people explaining why they feel that there is a need for this protest. The most misleading video comes from a peculiar source, Wael Ghoneim for when he was Speaking at a conference, Ghoneim he expressed that he believed that the revolution is still on for it has yet to achieve its initial objectives. Individuals that are planning to participate in the protests that were inspired by such statement have twisted the words on social media outlets by claiming that the liberal-leaning brief revolutionary spokesman supports the November 28th protest. These same posts also imply that they believe that if the demonstrations are successful, he could be a possible replacement for Sisi. Despite the claims of his supporters, Ghoneim has never once mentioned the date or support for their call, but his words have seemingly been adopted in an underhanded attempt to attract seculars and liberals to join the demonstration.
A rough translation: “The appearance of Baradei and Ghoneim means the USA is preparing a substitute for Sisi. We planted a seed on 25th January and it will bloom on 28th November.”
By now, it should be understood that in order for a toppling to be successful, a ridiculously large mass mobilization effort at one central location is required. As it stands, this nationwide call for action has failed to identify where they plan to amass and they have only stipulated that a protest will start from dozens of mosques scattered across Cairo, looking to retake Rabaa Square in Nasr city. There are those who speculate that the exclusion of where exactly the protests will take place is an attempt to keep authorities in the dark on where they should mobilize to thwart their efforts. In preparation to control any protest efforts, security measures have been taken as both Tahrir Square and Rabaa Square were closed on Wednesday morning.
In attempts to keep Egyptians calm, authorities have projected confidence in which they believe that they are prepared for anything. Leading up to Friday, Egyptian police arrested five Salafist leaders on Monday for being “leaders of sedition and planned acts of sedition, anarchy and violence on Friday,” according to a statement that was also confirmed on the “Salafi Front” Facebook page. The Minister of Internal Affairs suggested, at the recent opening of a tactical centre, that people should go out and have fun on the 28th which reiterates that there is nothing to fear. However, this same minister is vowing to deal “firmly” with the anticipated protests as he also has said that the possible use of live ammunition against those who “threaten security.”
The reality of the situation is that the outcome of these anticipated protests may be negligible but, if authorities choose to use a heavy hand in dealing with dissenters their actions, it may lead to a broader call for action and consequently lead to further instability in a country that continues to struggle to get past square one.