Massacre in North Cairo disrupts preparations for presidential election

The latest massacre of protestors is the newest complication for Egypt's democratic transition.

CAIRO, May 5, 2012 - On Wednesday May 2, 2012, eleven protesters demonstrating against the interim military government were killed and over 50 were injured, according to the Egyptian Ministry of Health. 

Protestors, who had staked a camp outside the Ministry of Defense for five days, were attacked by unidentified thugs.  

Clashes between protesters and thugs started at dawn and continued for several hours.  Neither the police nor the military stepped in to stop the melee.  According to witnesses, the attackers used birdshot, petrol bombs, daggers and other weapons against the peaceful protestors.  

The Abbassya Square in North East  Cairo was transformed into a battle field.  Public hospitals were closed, making the situation even worse because injured protestors could not receive medical care.  

Earlier in the week, protesters had camped in Tahrir square demanding the military return to their barracks and hand power over to civilians.  Protestors then marched to the main building of Defence Ministry, where they camped. 

Witnesses said the protesters were supporters of  Hazem Abou Ismail, a Salafist-ultra conservative Islamist who was disqualified from the presidential race because his mother holds dual  Egyptian/American citizenship. 

Under Egyptian electoral laws, both parents of an Egyptian presidential candidate must be Egyptian citizens.  

After the attacks, thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators marched to Abbassya to condemn the attack  on the demonstrators and  accuse the Ministry of Interior for orchestrating the attacks.

Meanwhile, main stream media announced that several presidential candidates have suspended their campaigns activities to protest the Abbassya massacre. Several members of the parliament together with presidential candidates demanded the resignation of the government.

The Abbassya incident, fears that the military will postpone the elections, and accusations among political rivals have complicated the troubled atmosphere of Egypt’s elections.

Ashraf Thabet, parliamentary speaker of the Salafist party which is supporting the candidacy of Aboul Fottouh,  warned against the consequences of quick conclusions over who is responsible for the massacre.  He said, “We need to find out what really happened and hope that this crisis passes so that the elections can take place as scheduled.”

Egypt’s political unrest over the last year has caused many political analysts to doubt if the military council intends to hand over power fully.

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Anwaar Abdalla

Anwaar Abadallah Khalik Ibrahim has her Ph.D. from Ain Shams University (1999, first degree honour) and currently lectures on Civilization and Cultural Affairs for Helwan University.  Dr. Abdalla Kahlik Ibrahim also works as an official coordinator for the cultural exchange program between Helwan Uni and TSU in the USA entitled “Cultural Immersion 2011-2014.”

Additionally, Ms. Abdallah is a member of the Egyptian and Arab women’s writer’s union and the Cairo Women Association.  She is also the translator of several books published by the Ministry of Culture including Shadows on the Grass, Impossible Peace and The Secret Rapture. Dr. Ibrahim is also an accomplished author and essayist in both Arabic and English publications. 


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