Tahrir protesters reject ‘threatening’ SCAF statement

Protesters in downtown Cairo’s Tahrir Square who have been conducting an open-ended sit in since 8 July reacted angrily to the TV address delivered by Assistant Defense Minister Mohsen al-Fangary, denouncing his “threatening” tone and body language.

Just after Fangary’s speech ended, people started waving their hands in the air in frustration, shouting, “We are not threatened.” Protesters chanted loudly, “We are not leaving.“

He pointed his finger while speaking as if to threaten us,” said Imam Mohamed Darwish. “He is inciting people sitting at home to go beat the protesters in Tahrir. “The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces is acting in defiance of the Egyptian people’s demands,” he added.

Fangary, a member of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), said in his speech that non-peaceful protests harm citizens’ interests and hamper the operation of state institutions, which causes serious damage to the state’s interests. For the past three days, protesters have prevented employees from entering the Mugamma, an important bureaucratic building.

Fangary called on “honorable” citizens to stand in the face of acts that hinder normal life.

“We are back to Mubarak’s strategy of suppression. All they do is make statements and give people empty speeches and we will not stop protesting,” said Mohamed Salah, a teacher.

Fangary said the SCAF, which took power after former President Hosni Mubarak resigned on 11 February, is committed to managing the country during the transition. Parliamentary elections will be conducted in September, followed by the drafting of a constitution and the election of a president.

A bill of principles will be prepared to help choose a panel to write a new constitution for the country. These principles will be issued as part of a constitutional declaration, after all powers and parties approve of them, Fangary went on.

Protesters also called the speech too little, too late.

“Statements always come very late, just like with Mubarak, and are not satisfactory. We are not thugs, we are revolutionaries demanding justice for the families of the revolution’s martyrs and we will keep sitting in because they never take any positive steps except after our pressure,” said Amina Ahmed, a teacher.

The administrators of Fangary’s Facebook fan page, which had about 100,000 fans, announced Tuesday that they were shutting down the page in protest of Fangary’s speech and its “threatening” tone.

Scores of people have been "unliking" SCAF’s Facebook page since the speech.

Fangary said that the SCAF will not give up its role managing the country at this critical stage of Egypt's history, and that it is committed to managing the country.

The SCAF will continue to support Prime Minister Essam Sharaf, he added.

A march from Tahrir Square to the cabinet’s headquarters is scheduled for Tuesday evening, in order to press for the revolution’s demands.

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