CAIRO: Approximately 100 demonstrators gathered at the journalists’ syndicate late Sunday night to show their solidarity with detainees. The demonstration featured a group of about 10 former detainees who were showing their continued support for their brethren still locked behind bars.
After the designated one-hour of chanting on the steps in front of the syndicate, the pro-reform group headed inside to hear testimonies from former detainees about their time in prison.
According to Fadi Iskander, an activist who had only recently been released from detention, says that these sort of events show that the opposition is not dead.
“We must go at things one by one or else there won’t be a continued pressure against the government and the momentum that we have achieved will be lost, Iskander argues. “It is something we have to do if we are to show the people we haven’t forgotten.
However, with the diminishing numbers of people attending demonstrations, it is hard to believe the opposition is gaining ground. Iskander believes that it is “the presence of people on the steps that maintains the belief that things can change in this country.
“Hopefully the people will continue to do these things [demonstrations] and support our friends who are still in prison, he continues.
With hundreds of pro-reform and Muslim Brotherhood activists still behind bars, Sunday’s demonstration showed a hint that the opposition has not decided to sit back and wait. Instead, they are moving forward with demonstrations and solidarity sit-ins.
Although the chants were the usual opposition cheers that are heard at demonstrations, there was a different attitude toward the end of the hour. The recently released activists gathered in front of the steps to form a semi-circle where they began to sing a song of solidarity. The group of security officers standing across the street even began to stomp their feet at the rhythm of the song.
“I believe that this is the best way to show our support, although I would have liked to see more people come out, says Ahmed El Droubi, who was released from detention only two weeks ago.
“There are a lot of issues we face and we need to go at them head on, El Droubi explains.
For activists like El Droubi, the situation facing them is an uphill battle. Following his release from prison, he found out that his employer had fired him and would not allow him to pick up his salary and expenses due to him for April.
Currently, he is in the process of taking legal action against the company. According to El Droubi, the company had told him while he was in prison that he would maintain his position; however, that changed upon his release. El Droubi has since sent a letter to the head office in London explaining his situation and asking for recuperation for his salary.
The letter tells what had happened to him, his arrest and what the Egypt branch of his company had told him. According to El Droubi, the decision taken against him was done by the Cairo-based manager without the official approval of the head office in London.
“It is a matter of principle. My consideration to pursue legal action is due to my belief that the termination of my employment was not based on professional reasons, but was rather a violation against my right to express myself, and participate actively in my society’s affairs, the letter argues.
While the activists held strong on Sunday, chanting and coming together as one, activists believe that more must be done to galvanize the opposition.
“We have to get out and get our message to the people if we want to succeed, an unnamed activist says. “Without the people we are not going to be seen in their eyes as a viable alternative to the government.
The hour-long demonstration ended with Mohamed Abdel Quddus, of Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper, giving the call to prayer; a symbolic ending to a peaceful demonstration many of the activists felt had been missing.
“This is a new way of demonstrating and hopefully it will gain respect from the security officers, Iskander hopes.