- Life Style
“We will not be inherited anymore,” protesters chanted, hoisting banners and wearing t-shirts bearing the same slogan.
Some three hundred demonstrators, including politicians and activist from groups of various political backgrounds, gathered meters away from Abdeen Square in downtown Cairo. Those present included representatives of several protest movements, including the Democratic Movement for Change, 6th April, Kefaya, Youth for Change and the Muslim Brotherhood, as well as those from the Ghad, Karama, Naserite and Wafd opposition parties.
All were there to express their discontent with the regime of President Hosni Mubarak and voice their objection to an anticipated presidential bid by Mubarak's 46-year-old son, Gamal.
“We came here in memory of Orabi’s demonstration against Khedive Tawfik, in which he made him his famous statement: ‘We will not be inherited anymore’,” said George Ishak, a founder of the pro-democracy Kefaya movement. Ishak was referring to celebrated Egyptian patriot Ahmed Orabi, who led a protest in the late nineteenth century against a prohibition on Egyptian peasants from joining the army.
“We stand against Gamal Mubarak’s lust for power," said MP and Karama Party head Hamdin Sabbahi. "We'll keep up popular pressure until we achieve transparent elections--otherwise we'll engage in civil disobedience."
Labor union activists also came to show their rejection of the notion of presidential inheritance from father to son. "In the name of Egypt's workers, I declare that we've seen poverty in Mubarak's time. We don't need more of this regime," Kamal Fayoumi, an activist laborer from Mahala, told Al-Masry Al-Youm.
For three hours, protesters chanted anti-Mubarak slogans and set fire to pictures of the younger Mubarak amid a heavy turnout of riot police.
On the other side of the square, two women on their way to the demonstration were circled by police and prevented from moving. One of them, Gamila Ismail, a political activist and ex-wife of opposition leader Ayman Nour, told Al-Masry Al-Youm that security forces had succeeded in preventing them from reaching the square before the demonstration had even begun. The two nevertheless remained in the area for some four hours.
When two independent groups of protesters attempted to join forces, at least ten activists were seized by plainclothes police working alongside conventional officers. A photojournalist from independent daily Al-Shorouk was beaten by police, who seized the film from his camera. An Al-Jezeera photojournalist was also among those taken by police officers, who could be seen ejecting his video tapes.
Dozens of local residents and shopkeepers, meanwhile, watched the protest from the doors of their shops or from balconies.
Typical of such events, protesters and media personnel were barred from leaving the melee. After three hours, however, police finally agreed to release the embattled protesters as a state security cameraman photographed each of them in turn.
Only meters from the gathering, a few dozen supporters of Gamal Mubarak gathered near the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP)'s headquarters in Abdeen in preparation for a planned pro-Gamal demonstration that was later postponed.
Two months ago, supporters of the younger Mubarak launched a campaign to promote an anticipated presidential bid by Gamal in elections scheduled for next year. The campaign provoked the ire of anti-Mubarak activists, who first launched their campaign five years ago to coincide with 2005 presidential elections.