For Egyptian activist, protesters want jobs and rights, not the Muslim Brotherhood

For Mina Magdy, a spokesman for the Maspero Youth Union, people want "stability, growth and jobs". There is resentment over the cession of islands to Saudi Arabia, and concern over close links with Riyadh. Most are against Islamic extremists, who led yesterday’s protest. The Giulio Regeni affair is being used against country.


Cairo (AsiaNews) – Egyptians have taken to the streets to protest. Most of them are “protesting against the country’s difficult economic situation” and “demanding "social and civil rights" in a "democratic" way, certainly not with the aim of "triggering another revolution,” said Mina Magdy, 30, general coordinator and spokesman for the Maspero Youth Union.

Speaking to AsiaNews, he said people want "stability, growth, and jobs" as well as "the defence of the country’s territory and sovereignty." For this reason, “the cession of two islands to Saudi Arabia has created resentment."

Yet, despite dissatisfaction among many Egyptians against President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi and his administration, no one wants to "bring the Muslim Brotherhood back to power."

Tensions have bene running high between protesters and Egyptian security forces in recent days. In Cairo, Egyptian police fired tear gas at those who defied government warnings and held a rally on Monday calling for the "downfall" of the regime.

Hundreds of people also gathered in Mesaha Square in Cairo’s el Dokki district in defiance of the warnings against unauthorised demonstrations.

Security forces and the military were deployed in several Egyptian cities, including Cairo and Alexandria, in key areas like Tahrir Square.

A judge in Giza issued detention orders for four 6 April movement leaders, who played a major role in the 2011 revolution.

Egyptian media slammed the detention of scores of journalists covering the protests at different sites against the return to Saudi Arabia of two islands – Tiran and Sanafir – in the Gulf of Aqaba.

Egyptian troops have occupied the islands since 1950 at the request of Saudi Arabia against possible Israeli attacks.

For Mina Magdy it is important to clarify certain things. A leader of the Christian group that emerged following a massacre of Copts in October 2011 in front of the Maspero building, he contributed to the fall of the pro-Islamist President Morsi in 2013.

"Last week,” he said, “many Egyptians took to the streets, including Coptic Christians, to challenge the cession of the islands." Conversely, “yesterday's protest is unclear. It was not broadly patriotic, but involved extremist Islamic movements, including the Muslim Brotherhood.” For this reason, “it did not have a big following".

Given its clearly political nature, it was more an "open protest against the government and the president”. Security forces responded by “arresting hundreds”.

"The fact is that the Muslim Brotherhood is not very popular. Most people do not want another revolution, but rather stability, economic growth and recovery in tourism by means of democratic struggle".

They also “do not want to be closely tied to Saudi Arabia, because we risk giving up freedom and rights for money". Being subjugated to an "oppressive culture is a real danger for us."

Meanwhile, media and the al Sisi’s government are at loggerheads over the investigation into the death of Giulio Regeni, a 28-year-old Italian researcher who was tortured and killed in Cairo earlier this year.

Regeni was a PhD student at Girton College, Cambridge, researching Egypt's independent trade unions. He went missing on 25 January. His body was found alongside the Cairo-Alexandria highway on the outskirts of Cairo on February 3, 2016. Italian investigators said the corpse showed signs of “inhumane” treatment.

Recently, the Reuters news agency cited six anonymous Egyptian security officials, all confirming that Regeni was in fact in police custody the day he disappeared, held at a police station. This contradicts Egypt’s official story.

The day the story broke, Egypt's Interior Ministry released a statement describing it as “false news”. President el Sisi slammed the report and social media for undermining the country’s stability. Egyptian authorities are looking into possible legal action.

For Mina Magdy, “The picture is confused and things have not changed [since January]. There are many opinions, views, investigations, and conflicting versions. The fact remains that the government had no interest in killing a foreign researcher. Moreover, cases of disappearances and violence have occurred in the past without much ado."

For the Christian activist, although there is no evidence, many are under the impression that someone “is taking advantage of the situation” to attack Egypt from the outside.

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