Small but rare protests in Egypt after online call for dissent

A small crowd of protesters gather in Cairo’s downtown on Friday, September 20, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 21 September 2019

Small but rare protests in Egypt after online call for dissent

  • The Muslim Brotherhood’s organized campaign against Egypt and its stability has failed miserably: UAE’s Gargash
  • Protests have become very rare in Egypt following a broad crackdown on dissent

CAIRO: Hundreds protested in central Cairo and several other Egyptian cities late on Friday against President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, responding to an online call for a demonstration against government corruption, witnesses said.
Protests have become very rare in Egypt following a broad crackdown on dissent under El-Sisi, who took power after the overthrow of the former Islamist president Mohammed Morsi in 2013 following mass protests against his rule.
Meanwhile, the UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash on Saturday tweeted in Arabic: “The Muslim Brotherhood's organized campaign against Egypt and its stability has failed miserably. Supported media platforms are matched by genuine popular support for the Egyptian state and its institutions. Egypt is recovering and facing challenges with insistence on a daily basis.

Security forces moved to disperse the small and scattered crowds in Cairo using tear gas but many young people stayed on the streets in the center of the capital, shouting “Leave El-Sisi,” Reuters reporters at the scene said.
Police arrested some of the demonstrators, witnesses said.
Small protests were also held in Alexandria on the Mediterranean coast, Suez on the Red Sea as well as the Nile Delta textile town of Mahalla El-Kubra, about 110 kilometers north of Cairo, according to residents and videos posted online.
There was a heavy security presence in downtown Cairo and on Tahrir Square where mass protests started in 2011 which toppled veteran ruler Hosni Mubarak.
Authorities could not be immediately reached to comment. State TV did not cover the incidents.
A pro-government TV anchor said only a small group of protesters had gathered in central Cairo to take videos and selfies before leaving the scene. Another pro-government channel said the situation around the Tahrir Square was quiet.
Mohamed Ali, a building contractor and actor turned political activist who lives in Spain, called in a series of videos for the protest after accusing El-Sisi and the military of corruption.
Last Saturday, El-Sisi dismissed the claims as “lies and slander.”
El-Sisi was first elected in 2014 with 97 percent of the vote, and re-elected four years later with the same percentage, in a vote in which the only other candidate was an ardent El-Sisi supporter. His popularity has been dented by economic austerity measures.
El-Sisi’s supporters say dissent must be quashed to stabilize Egypt, after a 2011 uprising and the unrest that followed, including an Islamist insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula that has killed hundreds of police, soldiers and civilians.
They also credit him with economic reforms agreed with the International Monetary Fund.


US honors head of France’s Arab World Institute

Updated 28 January 2020

US honors head of France’s Arab World Institute

  • Dr Jack Lang was recognized for promoting the Arab region and cross-cultural understanding
  • First recipient of the Global Cultural Leadership Award from the National Council on US-Arab Relations

WASHINGTON: Dr. Jack Lang, president of the Institut du Monde Arabe (Arab World Institute) in Paris, on Monday received the inaugural Global Cultural Leadership Award from the National Council on US-Arab Relations.

The honor was recognition for his achievements in expanding knowledge of the Arab region and promoting cross-cultural understanding. It was presented to him at the French ambassador’s residence in Washington by the council’s Founding President and CEO Dr. John Duke Anthony, board Chairman John Pratt, International Advisory Board member Leo A. Daly III, and Executive Vice President Patrick Mancino.

Lang and a delegation from the institute were in Washington for the opening of the IMA exhibition “Age Old Cities: A Virtual Journey from Palmyra to Mosul” at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art.

“What Monsieur Lang and the IMA have achieved in highlighting the rich history and culture of the Arab region is considerable,” said Anthony during the award presentation ceremony. “They have done much to showcase Arab contributions to knowledge and understanding that have benefited the world’s civilizations and humankind in general.

“Under Monsieur Lang’s leadership, the IMA has effectively pushed into new territories in storytelling and technology that help further illuminate the innumerable, extraordinary and myriad impacts that Arabs have had on humanity’s endless quest for modernization and development.”

Lang was appointed IMA president by French President Francois Hollande in 2013. He was previously a National Assembly member for more than two decades, including stints as France’s minister of culture and minister of education. He was also mayor of the city of Blois from 1989 to 2000, and served as a special adviser to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.

The IMA, which is located on the banks of the Seine in Paris, opened in 1987 as a center dedicated to the promotion of Arab civilization, knowledge and art. It contains unique collections and hosts special touring exhibitions. These include “AlUla: Wonder of Arabia,” showcasing Saudi Arabia’s Nabataean archaeological treasure, the dates for which were recently extended after it proved to be incredibly popular.

The National Council on US-Arab Relations was founded in 1983 as a nonprofit, nongovernmental, educational organization. It is dedicated to raising awareness and appreciation of the extraordinary benefits the United States has derived from its special relationships with countries in the Arab region, and vice versa. Anthony and the council are working on plans for an Arab Cultural Institute, similar to the IMA, in Washington.