Egyptian Protests Force PM Removal
Kahled Fahmy: We’re not afraid of the Muslim Brotherhood, we are afraid of
the resurrection of the old regime
DANYA NADAR (VOICE-OVER), TRNN: Since the ousting of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on February 11, nationwide protests, labor strikes, and sit-ins have persisted with a unified demand: the sacking of former president Mubarak’s cabinet. On March 3, Ahmed Shafik resigned as Egypt’s prime minister, and soon after, the Egyptian military announced the appointment of former transportation minister Essam Sharaf. In a surprising appearance, Sharaf spoke to a crowd of protesters in Tahrir Square and assured them he would meet their demands.
ESSAM SHARAF (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): I will try with all of my heart to meet your demands. And on the day that I will not be able to fulfill your demands, I will be out there with you and not up here.
NAZLY HUSSEIN, EGYPTIAN PROTESTER (SOME TRANSLATION): He went up and said that all of the demands are legitimate, which is great. And then people said, "The people want the dissolution of the security state."
CROWD (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): The people want the dissolution of the security state!
HUSSEIN: He said, "And I really hope that I can ensure the force that only works for the security of civilians".
KHALED FAHMY, HISTORY DEPARTMENT, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY IN CAIRO: People were ecstatic, they were very happy, first because they won, and because, due to the pressure, the army had to put pressure on the prime minister to resign. And what they now want is for the state of emergency to be lifted, for the state security apparatus to be dismantled, for all political detainees to be released, and a new demand that started to appear a couple of days ago, which is to extend the transitional period. People now, when they start thinking about what is ahead of them for the coming few weeks and months, they realize that the six-month transitional period is too short and the army should extend that transitional period to allow for the new opposition forces to rally their forces and to organize themselves in order to be ready for the coming parliamentary elections, because otherwise what we are afraid of is not, as people in the West continue to say, you know, this bogeyman, the Muslim Brotherhood. We’re not afraid of the Muslim Brotherhood. We’re really afraid of the old guard of the National Democratic Party to rally their troops again and run under a new guise and win the elections.
NADAR: On March 4 and 5, hundreds of protesters stormed state security buildings in Alexandria and Cairo, claiming that documents on human rights abuses have already been destroyed, as former interior minister Habib el-Adly is being investigated (among other charges) for using live ammunition against protesters. In solidarity with pro-democracy protests, nationwide labor strikes have gripped the country, demanding for an increase in minimum-wage levels, the creation of independent labor unions, and the sacking of government-backed factory owners. According to Mohammed Fadel, assistant professor at the University of Toronto, the supreme military council has agreed to meet with the leaders of the Egyptian independent trade unionists.
NADAR: So you’re still occupying the square?
HUSSEIN: Yeah. For the first time, I really believe that we are ruling the country.
NADAR: A national referendum has been called for March 19 to reform eight critical articles in the Constitution. The proposed changes shortens the presidential term, expands the pool of eligible presidential candidates, restores the judicial supervision of elections, and restricts the ability to declare and renew a state of emergency. While concessions are being made–and [there are] signs of more to come–the Egyptian army has yet to concede to demonstrators’ largest demand, the complete dissolution of military rule. This is Danya Nadar with The Real News Network.
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