By Aaron T Rose, Charlie Miller and Mahitab Assran
Hundreds of women gathered outside Ain Shams University in Abbaseya Sunday afternoon in support of ousted president Mohammed Morsi and to protest the Friday clashes in Mansoura that left at least three women dead.
The protest was met with a strong military presence as the army blocked Khalifa El-Maamoun Street with several armoured personnel carriers, a barricade of barbed wire and dozens of soldiers. Female protestors carried pictures of Morsi, Qurans and signs condemning General Abdul Fatah Al-Sisi, while male Morsi supporters armed with clubs and protected by helmets formed a human chain around the demonstration to guard against incidents of sexual harassment.
“We are here to show our support for democracy, the legitimacy of the constitution and for Islam,” said Nouran Salam Ali, who travelled from North Sinai to attend the rally. “What happened in Mansoura was not only a crime against women; it was a crime against human rights and a crime against freedom.”
Freedom and Justice Party spokeswoman Alaa Ibrahim Moustafa said that it is important for women to join the protests to show that they are a part of Egypt that deserves representation as well.
“We are in the streets, and we will stay here until Morsi is back in office,” said Moustafa, calling the armed forces and the interim government “thieves.”
“They stole the government. All of them are from the Mubarak era and are coming back. Five free elections and they threw it in the garbage.”
After demonstrating for two hours in front of Ain Shams University, the protestors marched to join the existing pro-Morsi sit-in outside of Rabaa Al-Adaweya Mosque in Nasr City.
A separate march meanwhile passed through the embassy district of Garden City on Sunday.
The march was announced by the National Coalition to Support Legitimacy, state-owned Al-Ahram reported, and was supposedly headed for the American Embassy in Garden City, however they found the route blocked by a security.
The march continued to snake through the neighbourhood, shouting: “Get out Al-Sisi, Morsi is my President!”, as well as anti-American chants. The march stopped outside the Medical Syndicate on Qasr Al-Eini Street, where a sit-in ensued.
Many of the marchers carried portraits of the ousted president, and others carried photographs of the victims of Friday’s clashes in Mansoura. One poster proclaimed “Peaceful protest is every woman’s right”, and another claimed “the military killed my sister”, with a photograph of Hala Mohamed Abu Sheshaa, one of the victims of clashes on Friday.
The demonstrators blocked Qasr Al-Eini Street for around half an hour, and chanted against Al-Sisi, interim president Adly Mansour, Al-Nour party spokesman Nader Bakkar and Mohammed ElBaradei.
Although Central Security Forces were present along the Corniche close to the American Embassy, the march passed through without significant confrontation.
Both marches followed strong condemnation from several political parties of the attacks in Mansoura.
The three victims of the clashes had been marching in Mansoura on Friday in support of ousted president Mohamed Morsi, when the rally was reportedly attacked by “thugs”.
The Women Against the Coup movement organised a march from Al-Nour Mosque in Abbaseya to the Ministry of Defence Headquarters on Sunday afternoon following noon prayers. The same group also issued a statement consoling the victims’ families on Saturday, in which they held the leading officials of the Egyptian army and Al-Sisi “responsible for their deaths.”
The feminist organisation Fouada Watch also issued a statement on Sunday deploring the violence in Mansoura and asking government officials to “take responsibility, protect the citizens,” and put an end to violent attacks.
On the same day the Al-Tayar Al-Sha’aby issued a statement on their official Facebook page consoling the victims of violence and “terror “all over Egypt; they asked security officials to quickly investigate and punish those responsible for the “death of three innocent women. “
Al- Nour Party said the attacks were a “mark of shame on a government that claims to be protecting the rights and freedoms of all its citizens.” Al-Nour Party ordered the arrest of all involved in the attacks and asked security officials to protect all peaceful protesters.
Al- Wasat Party also issued a statement expressing its sorrow over what they described as a “massacre” of the three women.
Following the ouster of Morsi, many of his supporters have organised protests demanding his return, which have sometimes been met with violence.