Egypt faces new protests in wake of state of emergency

by | Jan 28, 2013 | News

On the second anniversary of protests that toppled Mubarak regime Egyptians have taken to the streets to protest. PHOTO COURTESY OF WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

On the second anniversary of protests that toppled Mubarak regime Egyptians have once again taken to the streets. PHOTO COURTESY: ESSAM SHARAF WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

By Sharon Tindyebwa

Egypt is being rocked by a fresh wave of violence a day after President Mohamed Morsi declared a state of emergency and curfew in three cities.

CBC is reporting that police fired tear gas against rock-throwing protesters in Cairo on Monday, making it the fifth consecutive day of clashes in Egypt.

The violence began last week when Egyptians took to the streets to mark the second anniversary of the revolution that overthrew former president Hosni Mubarak.

Al-Jazeera is reporting that nearly 50 people have been killed, with most of the deaths occurring in Port Said where locals have been protesting a court conviction and death sentence of 21 accused of involvement in a soccer riot that left 74 dead in February 2012.

Morsi announced the state of emergency in Port Said, Ismailia and Suez in a televised address Sunday.

The protests mark ongoing discontent with Morsi and his governing party, the Muslim Brotherhood.

“The big issue here is really the nature of the constitution, and the degree to which it lacked widespread consultation and to a certain extent, at least among the opposition, the sense is that it was imposed through the manipulation of procedures,” Paul Kingston, director of the centre of critical development at University of Toronto Scarborough, told Humber News.

Kingston said that some Egyptians see demonstrations as the only way to effect change from a government intent on consolidating power.

“This is a classic example of political forces which are using extra-parliamentary, extra-institutional means to try and generate public opinion and influence and power in a way to solidify their voice at the table,” he said. “The Muslim Brotherhood is misusing the institutions of the state and….the opposition – because they have been to a certain extent shut out of the political process – have little option but begin to use extra-parliamentary means to try and do that.”

Mohamed Mahmoud, president of the Egyptian Students Association at the University of Toronto said protests are “the only way to influence the regime to make changes.”

Currently a Ph.D student in transportation and civil engineering, Mahmoud said he plans to return to Egypt after completing his doctoral dissertation. He said he worries about stability in Egypt and acknowledged the role that demonstrations play in increasing instability.

“It is kind of confusing. If we have more protests, we are actually influencing the instability,” he said. “”But at the same time if we don’t speak out and say what we want and don’t want, we can’t expect any changes.”

Costanza Musu, an associate professor of public and international affairs at the University of Ottawa, said Morsi’s reaction to the recent protests was problematic.

“What is very concerning is that he has imposed a state of emergency. Essentially he has deployed one of the weapons that normally was used by Mubarak himself,” she told Humber News.

Morsi has invited the opposition for a dialogue on how to solve the current instability, but at least one major opposition party has declined, according to BBC.

Musu said the opposition is unlikely to join in any talks unless Morsi offers some concessions.

“If the reaching out is only window dressing to mask ongoing repression, no party will really engage because they have nothing to gain from that.”