Egyptians protest Gamal’s inheritance of power, burn photos…
By Moustafa Youssef
Hundreds of Egyptians took to the streets September 21 in the capital, Cairo, to demonstrate what they see are plans for presidential succession. Eleven were arrested in Cairo, and twenty five in similar protests in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria according to a local NGO.
Riot police outnumbered the protesters, surrounded and attacked them outside Abdeen Palace, the site of the nineteenth century revolt against the monarchy of the time and British colonial rule. Journalists were amongst those beaten, according to eyewitness reports.
Police also confiscated from Al-Jazeera and other cameramen videotapes showing photos of Gamal Mubarak (President Hosni Mubarak’s son) being burnt, according to their stations’ reporters.
Opposition groups such as Kefaya (Enough) and the Student April 6th movement organized these protests as Egypt gears up for parliamentary elections in November and presidential elections next year.
The protests were to coincide with the death anniversary of Ahmed Orabi who led the 1882 uprising, declaring that Egyptians should no longer be treated as slaves. ”No inheritance after today, no freedom without blood,” chanted protesters. “We are not slaves or property. God created us free people.”
President Hosni Mubarak, 82, is believed to be grooming his son Gamal, 46, who is currently a high-ranking member of the ruling National Democratic Party. He has been associated with the current government’s privatization policies which have proved disastrous for many Egyptians. He also accompanied his father in the presidential delegation to the peace talks in Washington earlier in September.
“All I want are democratic elections, and I guarantee you that Mubarak will not win anymore,” a student protester explained.
The country has been in a state of emergency since President Sadat’s assassination in 1981 when President Mubarak took power. The Emergency Law allows arrest without charge and restricts the ability for political parties to organize, blocking the development of any effective opposition.
Former Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and Nobel Peace Laureate Dr. Mohammed ElBaradei is seen by many Egyptians as a potential candidate for presidency. He heads the National Association for Change which is amongst those campaigning against inheritance of power.
Supporters of National Association for Change are mobilizing to collect one million signatures for constitutional change through door-to-door canvassing and over the Internet.
The proposed constitutional changes would end the state of emergency, allow independent candidates to run for office, allow judicial and international monitoring of the elections and limit the length of presidency to two terms.
ElBaradei has insisted he will not participate in next year’s presidential elections unless these constitutional changes take place to ensure the vote is free and fair.
He also warned that civil disobedience could be resorted to if the regime continues to ignore demands for reform. ElBaradei called for the boycott of upcoming parliamentary elections, but Muslim Brotherhood, which is the biggest organized opposition group, and the Liberal Wafd Party have decided that they will not do so.