Sunday

20th May 2018

Egyptian protester: 'We are getting a bad image in Europe'

  • Handful of tourists in what should be a crowd-packed pyramid site in Cairo. Its bad image is costing it billions in lost income (Photo: EUobserver)

Tens of thousands of Egyptians marched in protest in Cairo on Tuesday (4 December) in an escalating dispute on the country's post-revolutionary future.

"The Muslim Brotherhood is giving Egypt a bad image in Europe. People will think that we are all like them - that we are not democrats and that we are violent, that we want to kill people in the name of Islam. I am also a Muslim but I am not like them," Osama, a 38-year-old Egyptian businessman who took part in the rally, told EUobserver.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

"This is a final warning to [the new Egyptian President Mohamed] Morsi," Sarwat, a 54-year-old biochemist and tourist guide, said.

The protest started at around 5pm local time, with streams of people converging on the presidential palace from various parts of the capital.

One group, from Cairo's middle class Nasr City district, marched past the defence ministry waving Egyptian flags.

The protesters - including Muslim women in veils, women in Western dress carrying children, old men in traditional Egyptian robes and young men in suits - chanted "bahel! [not valid]," referring to Morsi's new draft constitution.

They also yelled "arehl! [Morsi get out]" and "aish horriah! [bread and freedom]," as well as "anzel! [come down]," to encourage people watching them from balconies in overlooking tower blocks to join in.

There was a brief outbreak of violence when activists cut through barbed wire near the palace, prompting police to use batons and to fire tear gas, injuring 18 people, according to Egyptian news.

Another large group chanted slogans and songs late into the night in Tahrir Square in central Cairo.

But the rest of the vast capital city went about its business as usual.

For his part, Morsi left the palace as the crowds grew in number.

His actions stood in contrast to a pro-Morsi rally of a similar size organised by the Muslim Brotherhood - a broad political movement with branches in several Arab countries - also in Cairo last Friday.

It dos not advocate political or religious violence. But some commentators believe it contains extremist elements.

The unrest comes after Morsi one week ago gave himself absolutist new powers, removing presidential oversight by the country's constitutional court.

He said the move is temporary and will be lifted after a referendum on 15 December on a new constitution, which enshrines aspects of the Muslim "sharia" code of behaviour into Egyptian law and gives the president's office more sway in national affairs.

EU countries have promised Egypt billions of euros in aid in a bid to stabilise its economy after the revolution last year and to maintain Western influence in the largest Muslim country in the Middle East.

But Morsi's recent actions have caused concern in Brussels.

"No President of Egypt has placed himself beyond judicial oversight to such extent," a group of 13 cross-party MEPs wrote in an open letter to EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton last week.

"While we favour a close partnership between the EU and Egypt we consider that fundamental principles, such as the separation of powers, an independent judiciary and the rule of law, should be at its base," they added.

For his part, Mohammed, a pro-Morsi school teacher and taxi driver in Cairo, told this website that he trusts Morsi because the president's Islamic faith guarantees that he is not corrupt and because the majority of Egyptians want the country to be run on Islamic lines.

But biochemist and tourist guide Sarwat noted that the new president is doing little to address the concerns of Egypt's liberal and more secular classes.

"He gave a speech at the Muslim Brotherhood protest but he did not speak to us tonight [Tuesday]. This shows that he has taken sides, that he is not the president of all Egyptians," Sarwat said.

"I am an educated man and I have read the new constitution. But I don't know what it really means. You have to be a legal expert and when I see the experts on TV, even they are arguing about the real meaning of this or that paragraph," he added.

"Many of Morsi's supporters cannot read or write. And these are the people who will decide about my country in the referendum," he said.

EU and US thank Egypt for Gaza truce

EU and US statements after one week of Gaza hostilities underline the new status of the Muslim Brotherhood in the region.

Analysis

EU has no 'magic bullet' against US Iran sanctions

EU leaders in Sofia will discuss how they can protect the bloc's economic interests against US threats to sanction companies doing business in Iran. But their options are limited.

Opinion

Ratifying CETA after 'Achmea scandal' is anti-European

While few people in Europe have heard of the 'Achmea' ruling, the case will have far-reaching consequences. Member states must understand the implications of the case quickly - especially those considering ratifying the EU-Canada trade agreement.

News in Brief

  1. Trump warns Nato allies' low budgets will be 'dealt with'
  2. Only Estonia, Greece and UK hit Nato spending target
  3. EU to start process to counter US Iran sanctions
  4. Macedonia PM sees 'possible solutions' in Greek name row
  5. EU takes six countries to court over air pollution
  6. New Catalan leader sworn in without reference to Spain
  7. Merkel and Putin revive dialogue in troubled times
  8. European companies putting Iran business on hold

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  2. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and reconciliation is a process that takes decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  3. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up
  4. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOld White Men are Destroying Macedonia by Romanticizing Greece
  5. Counter BalanceControversial EIB-Backed Project Under Fire at European Parliament
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersIncome Inequality Increasing in Nordic Countries
  7. European Jewish CongressEU Leaders to Cease Contact with Mahmoud Abbas Until He Apologizes for Antisemitic Comments
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual Report celebrates organization’s tenth anniversary
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Cooperation Needed on Green Exports and Funding
  10. Mission of China to the EUPremier Li Confirms China Will Continue to Open Up
  11. European Jewish CongressCalls on Brussels University to Revoke Decision to Honour Ken Loach
  12. Sustainable Energy Week 2018"Lead the Clean Energy Transition"- Register and Join Us in Brussels from 5 to 7 May

Latest News

  1. Zuckerberg and Trump top the EU's agenda This WEEK
  2. Integration of Syrian refugees in Europe needs scrutiny
  3. Bulgarian PM: No asylum reform without stronger border
  4. Eight countries to miss EU data protection deadline
  5. Italian populists to defy EU debt rules
  6. Commission 'playing tricks' with EU budget figures
  7. How France escaped EU legal action over chemical ban
  8. 'Connectivity' trumps enlargement at Balkans summit

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EU Green Week 2018Green Cities for a Greener Future. Join the Debate in Brussels from 22 to 24 May
  2. Nordic Council of Ministers12 Recommendations for Nordic Leadership on Climate and Environment
  3. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOxford Professor Calls for an End to the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  4. ACCAPeople Who Speak-Up Should Feel Safe to Do So
  5. Mission of China to the EUProgress on China-EU Cooperation
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersWorld's Energy Ministers to Meet in Oresund in May to Discuss Green Energy
  7. ILGA EuropeParabéns! Portugal Votes to Respect the Rights of Trans and Intersex People
  8. Mission of China to the EUJobs, Energy, Steel: Government Work Report Sets China's Targets
  9. European Jewish CongressKantor Center Annual Report on Antisemitism Worldwide - The Year the Mask Came Off
  10. UNICEFCalls for the Protection of Children in the Gaza Strip
  11. Mission of China to the EUForeign Minister Wang Yi Highlights Importance of China-EU Relations
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersImmigration and Integration in the Nordic Region - Getting the Facts Straight