Egyptian opposition groups called for “peaceful” protests today, the second anniversary of the ouster of Hosni Mubarak, as a nascent youth movement threatens to storm the presidential palace.
Some opposition groups and parties, including the Egyptian Popular Current, are organizing marches to Cairo’s Tahrir Square, according to an e-mailed statement. Black-masked youth activists dubbing themselves the Black Bloc have meanwhile said on Facebook that today will witness the “storming of the palace,” asking President Mohamed Morsi to choose between “departure or chaos.” The authenticity of the statement by the group, which is targeted by authorities, couldn’t be independently verified.
The warning and the planned demonstrations heighten the kind of tensions that boiled over into violence during weekend protests, leaving one person dead. The standoff between the Islamist president and his mostly secular opponents come as the Egyptian pound weakened to a record low against the dollar and inflation rose. Morsi’s critics accuse him of failing to tackle the grievances that sparked the 2011 revolt from police brutality to high prices.
Morsi “has broken a record in lying and breaking promises,” the opposition groups said in the joint e-mailed statement. “Mubarak’s rule, then military rule, then the Brotherhood’s rule and oppression and poverty remain the same.”
Monday’s marches will be held under the slogans of “bringing down the regime, avenging the martyrs and social justice,” the groups said. “The new regime of the Brotherhood has excelled in the art of torture, kidnapping and oppression.”
The Muslim Brotherhood has said Egyptians should prepare for upcoming legislative elections instead.
“The opposition should shoulder the biggest share of responsibility for any violence for calling for protests while everyone knows in advance the tensions they will inflame and the violence they will cause,” Ahmed Aref, a spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood, said in a phone interview yesterday.
“Some opposition forces use street unrest to try to seize the power that they could not win through the ballot box,” Aref said “They’re not capable of gaining people’s votes through realistic programs and powerful candidates.”
Political bickering has prolonged talks between Egypt and the International Monetary Fund over a $4.8 billion loan that Egyptian officials say is necessary to help an economy battered since the 2011 uprising and the turmoil that followed.
Egyptian consumer prices posted the biggest monthly increase in more than two years in January after the pound weakened 7.8 percent against the dollar since Dec. 30. Prices rose 1.7 percent compared with 0.2 percent in the previous month, according to the state-run Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics. The annual rate climbed to 6.3 percent from 4.7 percent, the data show.
Demonstrators on Feb. 8 threw Molotov cocktails and rocks at the main presidential palace as thousands rallied against Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood in protests that ignited clashes in different parts of the country.
Separately, the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression is planning to file an appeal against an Egyptian court order to the government to block YouTube for a month, Ahmed Ezzat, legal director at the Cairo-based group, said by phone yesterday.
“The verdict doesn’t only reflect lack of knowledge among judges of how the internet works, it’s also extremely bizarre for the court to block an entire website for a post they deem wrong,” he said. “The order doesn’t respect the people’s freedom to choose the internet content they want to use and is against the freedom to access information.”
A court Feb. 9 issued its order to the ministries of investment and telecommunications after the website disseminated last year video footage deemed offensive to Islam and the Prophet Mohammed.