Un article lu sur Daily Star:
Divisions inside pro-Gaza protests
By Marwa Al-A’sar
First Published: December 29, 2008
CAIRO: Thousands of activists and members of opposition groups and parties protested across Egypt in the past three days against the Israeli raids on the Gaza Strip.
Rallies, estimated to have attracted about 55,000 demonstrators in total, swept Egypt’s cities.
The largest protest saw around 8,000 people demonstrate on the streets of Assiut, a city in southern Egypt of 400,000, a security official said, with another 3,000 gathering in Minya, south of Cairo.
A security official said 4,000 people took part in another anti-Israel and pro-Gaza demonstration in Alexandria.
Eight thousand people demonstrated at Cairo University, with another 5,000 involved in another demonstration at Ain Shams University.
In Cairo protesters split into two groups. The larger group mostly consisted of members of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), Egypt’s largest opposition group from which Hamas, the major target of Israel’s air strikes, evolved.
The second gathering included members and leaders of opposition parties, the Egyptian Movement for Change (Kefaya), 6th of April Movement and human rights activists.
A few hours after the first airstrike on Gaza Saturday, more than 2,000 protesters gathered outside the Journalists’ and Lawyers’ Syndicates, denouncing the attack while carrying Palestinian flags.
“We are protesting for the sake of our fellows in Palestine who are now being killed by the Jews. We would sacrifice ourselves to restore the holy land,” a female protester affiliated with the Brotherhood said on condition of anonymity.
A division of opinion appeared clearly from the very beginning during almost all protests. While MB members were against insulting President Hosni Mubarak in public, other activists and opposition groups shouted anti-Mubarak statements.
“It was rather a confusing situation. To maintain unity, protesters had to get back to the MB leaders all the time before shouting any statements,” 6th of April movement co-founder Mohamed Abdel-Aziz told Daily News Egypt.
Though being a Muslim Brotherhood member himself, journalist and Kefaya activist Mohamed Abdel-Quddous is known for his outspoken criticism of Mubarak. He described the regime’s stance toward the assault on Gaza as being “dreadful”.
“Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni had already threatened to strike Gaza during her meeting with Mubarak and senior officials two days before the attack,” Abdel-Quddous told Daily News Egypt.
Two hours after the very first Cairo protest kicked off, MB members withdrew once statements against Mubarak prevailed. One protester said as he was getting ready to leave with his fellows: “We finished with what we came here for.”
The rest of the protesters, barely a few hundred, remained for two more hours, turning the protest into an anti-regime gathering.
“Our stand is clear. We reject offences during any protests we take part in. Yet we hold Mubarak and the state’s foreign policy responsible for the attacks on Gaza,” MP Hussein Ibrahim, deputy head of the MB parliamentary bloc, told Daily News Egypt. “I announced it clearly during a parliament session that the strike was declared from Egypt.”
Several other demonstrations broke out Sunday afternoon. More than 3,000 people gathered outside the Parliament; most of them were MB members, holding the holy Quran high and chanting Islamic slogans. They called for jihad (holy war) to free the occupied Palestinian territories.
The rally was supposed to move toward the Abdeen Presidential palace. Yet the security officials banned it, agreeing with the MB leaders and parliamentarians that a small delegation of MPs would be allowed to go to the palace to present a petition.
The protesters then were divided into two groups. The largest group of MB members rallied to Dar El-Hekma (the Doctors’ Syndicate), while less than 100 opposition and human rights activists finally settled outside the Shoura Council.
Like the case in almost all protests about the Gaza cause, after MB members left, the rest of the demonstrators slammed Mubarak and the deteriorating economic and political situation in Egypt.
Kefaya co-founder Kamal Khalil noted that “what happened in Gaza was part of the accumulation of the vices of a corrupt regime in Egypt.” In a statement released following the protest, 6th of April movement accused Mubarak of conspiring against the Palestinian people.
However, all protesters, regardless of their ideologies, unanimously called on Egyptian and Arab leaders to react against the assault as well as call off peace treaties with Israel. They further urged the Egyptian officials to open the Rafah border crossing, to recall the Egyptian ambassador to Israel, to expel the Israeli one and to stop exporting natural gas to Israel.
“And we will go on protesting every day till our demands are met,” Abdel-Aziz firmly said. – Additional reporting by AFP