By Heba Fahmy
CAIRO: The Muslim Brotherhood said Thursday it’s reconsidering its refusal to participate in the demonstration on Jan. 25 titled “the Egyptian Day of Uprising”..
Prominent MB leader Essam El-Erian had earlier told El-Dostor website that the group wouldn’t participate in the demonstration because it was a public call launched through a Facebook group directed at the Egyptian people not political groups.
He added that the participation of the Brotherhood as an opposition group needed coordination and planning with other opposition groups before taking to the streets.
However, El-Erian told Daily News Egypt on Thursday that the group later received an invitation from the National Association for Change (NAC) to participate in the demonstration and the group was still debating its final decision.
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 Zein El-Abidine Ben Ali.
The day is a national holiday commemorating the 1952 struggle of the Ismailia police force against the British Occupation.
“We have reservations on the Jan. 25 date, as it isn’t just a police holiday; it’s a national holiday that honors the Egyptian resistance against the British occupation,” El-Erian told Daily News Egypt.
However April 6 Youth Movement chose that day specifically to reflect the irony of celebrating Egypt’s police at a time when police brutality is making headlines.
“The Egyptian police of today are completely different from the brave martyrs of Ismailia [in 1952],” spokesperson for the April 6 Youth Movement Mohammed Adel told Daily News Egypt. “They’ve turned this from a holiday honoring police to a reminder of police bullying and brutality against Egyptian citizens.”
Karima Al-Hifnawy, member of the National Association for Change and the Kefaya opposition movement agreed, “The police’s priority has recently become oppressing, humiliating and torturing citizens and protecting the government instead of protecting the people.”
Al-Hifnawy stated that the Brotherhood’s participation would increase the momentum of the demonstration, but its absence wouldn’t drastically affect it.
“When the Brotherhood participates in a demonstration, it’s with large numbers which is definitely a positive aspect,” Al-Hifnawy told Daily News Egypt.
“But even if they don’t participate as a group, members of the Brotherhood usually participate individually in protests and the rest of opposition groups will participate as well,” she added.
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 truth is the influence of political religious groups is starting to subside in the Arab World,” he added
The popular Facebook group “We are All khaled Saeid” called for all Egyptians to attend the demonstration. More than 61,000 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.
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.
In Egypt, protestors’ demands include the annulment of the emergency law, the resignation of Interior Minister, Habib Al-Adly, dissolving the parliament and a minimum wage to LE1200.
However, Abdel Fattah said that this 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.
The April 6 Youth Movement called on all opposition groups participating in the demonstration on Jan. 25 to carry Egyptian flags instead of any logos or symbols representing groups or parties, in a statement issued on Wednesday.
“We call on everyone to unite under Egypt’s fluttering flag and let our motto be “Egypt…we are all one,” the statement read.