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Egypt’s September protests: Indications and signs

Egyptians protest against Egyptian President Abdel Fattal Al-Sisi on 21 September 2020 [althani_faisal/Twitter]
Egyptians protest against Egyptian President Abdel Fattal Al-Sisi on 21 September 2020 [althani_faisal/Twitter]

The Egyptian people have been taking to the streets, and although small and sporadic initially, the protests have been accelerating day by day. People started demonstrating after actor and contractor Mohamed Ali called on them to protest on 20 September, perhaps thinking that there would be no response to his call. But the people responded, and the protests grew. Despite initial small numbers, the protests carried several indications.

The demonstrations gave people a strong push towards optimism. This is what those believing in the revolution needed, after many were gripped with despair, causing some to reject the calls to demonstrate. They had claimed that those outside of Egypt should not call on those inside Egypt to protest. This is because those inside Egypt are not able to call for protests, let alone take to the streets.

This movement was different to the January revolution, which began in the centre of major cities, moving outwards. However, this time, it started in the villages and small neighbourhoods, and there is hope that it will move to the major cities and streets.

Another important indicator is the participation of large numbers of children and youth. Every video showing the march displays children demonstrating. This made the movement a “hit and run movement” and, to some extent, tied the hands of the security forces as the use of violence against children will undoubtedly be the focus of international media reports.

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The demonstrations were aired on 23 September, a day that began with the news of the marriage of preacher Moez Masoud to artist Hala Shiha, as if the Egyptian people had solved all their problems, and there was nothing left to be concerned with but Moez. Moez and his likes are no longer the subjects of attention from the public, after their shameful positions on the current issues.

Then, at midday on Thursday, a fabricated statement by the Muslim Brotherhood’s Shura Council was reported. It was reported that all of the council’s members decided to reject the recent decisions made by Deputy Leader Ibrahim Munir. The aim of the fabricated statement was to create a state of discussion and for the pro-coup journalists and media to contact those who they falsely present to the public as “experts” on Muslim groups. The Muslim Brotherhood leaders and members avoided the distraction attempt by the military regime, and it was widely ignored.

Then, at the end of the day, a third piece of news was circulated, of the killing of two officers and a policeman, by four prisoners sentenced to death in Tora Prison. This was a very strange news report, as how did four individuals sentenced to death, who are affiliated with the Ansar al-Sharia organisation, manage to obtain a weapon and kill two soldiers and a policeman while still in prison?

What was bizarre about this particular news, was that the prisoners were at their morning exercise session, during which peaceful elderly prisoners are not allowed to exercise and were put into solitary confinement. However, these young men accused of violent acts were allowed to join a collective exercise session. This is thought-provoking news, in terms of its method and timing.

The indications and distractions are apparent in this seemingly simple movement, but it is significant in terms of its potential impact. It suggests that there is something new behind it, different to the events of September 2019. We cannot predict with certainty its result, but it is clear that this September’s movement contrasts with the last – in terms of its ideology, its participants, its repercussions and its effects. This is especially true since there is a call for a “Friday of Anger” on 25 September. Does this mean that Friday will be the start of a stronger movement? We certainly hope so.

‘Sisi is the enemy of God,’ chants on Egypt’s fourth day of protests against his rule

Translated from Arabi21, 24  September 2020

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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