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Egyptians to protest on second anniversary of revolution

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Huge crowds were expected to demonstrate in Egypt on Friday for the second anniversary of the revolution that ousted Hosni Mubarak and brought in an Islamist government, at a time of political tensions and economic woes.

The secular-leaning opposition called for mass street protests against President Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood from which he hails, using the same slogan that brought Egypt to its feet in 2011: “Bread, freedom, social justice.”

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“Go out into the squares to finally achieve the objectives of the revolution,” opposition leader and former head of the UN’s atomic agency Mohamed ElBaradei wrote on his Twitter account.

Tensions ran high on Thursday as police clashed with protesters who tried to dismantle a wall of concrete blocks shutting off a street leading to Cairo’s Tahrir Square, to ease the movement of demonstrators.

The demonstrators were to gather at Tahrir Square, iconic birthplace of the 2011 revolution, and in front of the presidential palace, where anti-Morsi rallies last December descended into deadly clashes with Islamist supporters.

Rallies elsewhere in the country, notably second city Alexandria, were also due to take place, and security forces have prepared for a heavy deployment, an official said.

The Muslim Brotherhood has not officially called for its own rallies, marking the anniversary instead by launching a charitable and social initiative dubbed “Together we will build Egypt.”

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Morsi urged Egyptians to mark the revolution’s anniversary in a “peaceful and civilised way,” in a speech on Thursday to mark the birthday of the Muslim Prophet Mohammed.

The threat of violence, however, remained, with a court verdict due on Saturday in the trial of dozens of defendants over the country’s worst football disaster.

More than 70 people were killed in Port Said in February last year during clashes in the Suez Canal city between fans of home side Al-Masry and the Ultras of Cairo’s Al-Ahly.

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Ahly supporters warned of violent protests and a “new revolution” should the verdict not rule in their favour.

After the seismic political changes of 2011, the Arab world’s most populous nation is struggling to find a balance between a leadership that boasts the legitimacy of the ballot and opponents who accuse the Islamists of betraying the goals of the revolution that brought them to power.

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The country also faces an economic crisis, as foreign investment and tourism dwindle, the Egyptian pound stands is at its lowest level against the dollar and a budget deficit shows no sign of recovery.


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2020 Election

We are witnessing the birth of a movement — and the downfall of a president

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They almost always begin to right wrongs: illegitimate wars; decades of discrimination on the grounds of gender or racial or sexual identity; killings of innocents by police or gun-toting lunatics; oppression by governments wielding unequal laws; the deeply embedded legacy of centuries of racism.

This article first appeared in Salon.

They are imperfect. Arising out of rage, they can be unfocused, inchoate, contradictory. Protesting violence, they often involve violence. Protesting oppression, they sometimes oppress by destroying public spaces, small businesses, even entire neighborhoods.

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COVID-19

COVID-19 research scandal: Unwanted diversion during pandemic

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The first research scandal of the coronavirus pandemic has created unnecessary distraction around the politically divisive drug hydroxychloroquine, scientists say, as questions swirl around the tiny health care company at the center of the affair.

On Thursday, most of the authors of major studies that appeared in The Lancet and the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) retracted their work and issued apologies, saying they could no longer vouch for their data after the firm that supplied it -- Chicago-based Surgisphere -- refused to be audited.

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Marriott ceases Cuban operations after new Trump sanctions

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Marriott has been ordered by the US Treasury Department to close its Four Points Sheraton hotel in Havana by the end of August and abandon plans to open others in Cuba, a spokeswoman for the American hotel group told AFP on Friday.

"We entered the Cuban market in 2016, with permission from the US government," the spokeswoman said.

"Our operating license was reviewed and renewed in 2018. We have recently received notice that the government-issued license will not be renewed, forcing Marriott to cease operations in Cuba."

Marriott's entry into the Cuban market came during the administration of US president Barack Obama, a Democrat.

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