By Tamim Elyan
CAIRO: Al-Wafd, Al-Tagammu and other political parties have distanced themselves from a Tunisia-inspired call for demonstrations on Jan. 25. They said their members can participate as individuals, but shied from officially joining planned protests.
Confirmed participants are mainly opposition movements — the Kefaya Movement for Change, the April 6 Youth Movement, Youth for Justice and freedom, the National Association for Change, the Public Front for Peaceful Change, El-Baradei support Public Campaign and the yet-to-be recognized Al-Karam Party.
Only two political parties, El-Ghad and the Democratic Front, have announced their participation in the demonstrations marking the national police holiday.
Ali Al-Selamy, assistant of Al Wafd’s party head, told Daily News Egypt that they are still discussing whether to participate or not.
However, press reports quoted leaders from Al-Wafd and Al-Tagammu parties saying they won’t participate officially, but that party members would be allowed to participate individually.
The Muslim Brotherhood said it would determine its final stance after a Saturday meeting with national opposition groups.
Nabil Abdel Fattah, a political analyst from Al-Ahram Center for Strategic and Political Studies, told Daily News Egypt that the Brotherhood is dominated with confusion and prioritizes its “small interests,” lacking any strategic vision.
“The Brotherhood is afraid of aggravating security forces against them and are at the same time afraid of missing the opportunity to participate in this widely anticipated protest against the regime,” Abdel Fattah said.
The April 6 Youth Movement called on all opposition groups to participate in demonstrations around Cairo on Jan. 25, following in the footsteps of the Tunisian revolution which toppled the President Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali.
The day is a national holiday commemorating the 1952 struggle of the Ismailia police force against the British Occupation.
Gamet El-Dowal Street, Dawaran Shubra, Dawran Al-Matarya and Cairo University were identified as the assembly points for the demonstrations, according to Mohamed Adel, spokesperson of the April 6 Movement.
“We decided to change the demonstration place from in front of the Ministry of Interior to these places in coordination with ‘We are All Khaled Saeid’ Facebook page and other movements,” Adel said.
According to Adel, demonstrators will march through the streets starting 2 pm.
The popular Facebook page “We are All Khaled Saeid” called for all Egyptians to attend the demonstration. More than 67,000 users confirmed their attendance on the social networking site.
“We are not lesser people than the Tunisians … thousands of Tunisians took all their rights and even toppled their president and forced him to flee the country … we want our rights,” read the Facebook statement.
A video published on the page featuring dissident former police colonel, Omar Afify, said the demonstrations will take place in slums and poor, narrow streets with 100 meeting points around Cairo and Giza and 20 in Alexandria.
Afify said that former police and army officers will participate at the demonstrations.
Protestors’ demands include the annulment of the emergency law, the resignation of Interior Minister, Habib El-Adly, dissolving the parliament and a minimum wage to LE 1,200.
“All opposition movements are urged to mobilize the largest number of masses to participate in the demonstrations by distributing flyers and hanging posters in the streets,” said Yasser Al Hawary, spokesperson of Youth for Justice and Freedom movement.
“Final preparations will be announced on the day of the demonstrations,” Al Hawary added.
According to Abdel Aziz Al-Hosseiny, spokesperson of Kefaya, there are attempts to organize similar demonstrations in other governorates.
Popular Parliament, an alternative body to the official People’s Assembly formed by opposition leaders, said in a statement that it will organize a protest in front of the Supreme Court in which its members will present a list of social, economic and political demands to the regime.
Tunisian Mohamed Bouazizi had set himself on fire last month, triggering a series of protests throughout the country that eventually led President Ben Ali to flee last Friday.
Tunisian activists said they would organize an alternative protest in front of the Egyptian embassy in Tunisia in solidarity with Egyptian activists.
Abdel Fattah said that the Jan. 25 protest will not be the beginning of a reenactment to what happened in Tunis.
“Considering what happened in Tunis applicable in all communities that suffer from oppression and political stagnation is highly exaggerated and not possible,” he said.