Photo Essays

Egyptians Call For Morsi’s Departure

Egyptians Call For Morsi’s Departure

Today Morsi supporters and Anti-Morsi protesters gathered throughout various cities in Egypt for massive demonstrations. The Pro-Morsi group – mainly consisting of Islamists from numerous parties – gathered to support the constitution and the President, while the Anti-Morsi supporters gathered to take part in what they dubbed as the ‘Tuesday of Departure’.

Morsi’s supporters gathered early in Cairo’s Rabaa Al Adaweya – a square in Nasr City (Cairo). At around 3p.m. hundreds had already arrived, and some roads were blocked by the demonstrators.

Pro-Morsi supporters at Rabaa Al Adaweya at around 2 p.m.
Pro-Morsi supporters at Rabaa Al Adaweya at around 2 p.m.

More Pro-Morsi supporters. I couldn't get more photos as this was during a car ride.
More Pro-Morsi supporters. I couldn’t get more photos as this was during a car ride.

According to eye-witness reports on Twitter and other social media, the supporters arrived in big tour buses and micro-buses – implying that this was a well organized protest that possibly included demonstrators who were paid to be there. Personally, I witnessed a few micro-buses travelling to the scene filled with people waving Morsi’s pictures.

At around 5p.m. I headed off to the Presidential Palace – a few kilometers away from where the Pro-Morsi supporters were gathered. The scene was completely different. At Rabaa Al Adaweya there were no security forces. At the Presidential Palace, hundreds of security officers – both from the military and from the Interior Ministry – lined up against the walls of the Presidential Palace.

Central Security Forces officers covering the walls of the Palace.
Central Security Forces officers covering the walls of the Palace.
Presidential Guard's tank at the Palace.
Presidential Guard’s tank at the Palace. The people behind it are all military officers that were resting at the time.
A protesters holding a sign that reads "Leave" while riot police stand behind him guarding the entrance to the Palace.
A protester holding a sign that reads “Leave” while riot police stand behind him guarding the entrance to the Palace.

Yet, despite the presence of hundreds of military and central security officers, the atmosphere remained calm – and was never threatening. Like previous protests, Anti-Morsi protesters were commonly seen discussing the political environment with the officers. Some officers stated that they had been standing guard since 4a.m. and that they were going to be there all night. They once again stressed that they are there to protect us and not to intimidate us. The people seemed to agree as not a single insult or object was hurled at the officers.

Protesters in front of one of the buildings in the Presidential Palace.
Protesters in front of one of the buildings in the Presidential Palace.

Although when I arrived protesters had been protesting directly in front of the palace, that was not the case throughout the day. Moreover, protesters were only allowed to demonstrate in front of one section of the Palace while others remained sealed off with 3-meter high stone walls.

Many of the stone walls surrounding the location where the demonstrations took place had been partially taken down. Protesters were also actively working to completely remove them – however that proved quite difficult.

Art and other graffiti covers the stone walls built by the military to protect the Palace.
Art and other graffiti covers the stone walls built by the military to protect the Palace.
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More graffiti on the stone walls. This writing states “Kill me. Killing me will not retain your state again. I write with my blood a second life for my country.”
Very morbid art on the stone walls.
Very morbid art on the stone walls.
Demonstrators after removing a block of stone from the wall.
Demonstrators after removing a block of stone from the wall.

As with the previous protests, there was a huge presence of women at tonight’s demonstration. However, I noticed very few children present – possibly due to the risk of violence considering the Pro-Morsi supporters were relatively close. The women chanted against the constitution and Morsi, and they called for better equality for women in Egypt.

Surprising: A woman wearing the niqab protesting against Morsi. The sign simply reads "No."
Surprising: A woman wearing the niqab protesting against Morsi. The sign simply reads “No.”
Women singing songs and chanting against Morsi.
Women singing songs and chanting against Morsi.
Their signs state "Leave."
Their signs state “Leave.”
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Already translated for you!
The women protesters were very passionate tonight and made sure their voices were being heard.
The female protesters were very passionate tonight and made sure their voices were being heard.

Unlike previous protests, tonight the atmosphere was slightly more tense, but remained festive and peaceful. This reflected in the people’s chants against Morsi, which included “Morsi, you spare tire, we’ll take you back to jail!” and “The People will remove the Supreme Guide (as opposed to the normally chanted: the people want the removal of the Supreme Guide).” A lot of profanity and insults were used during the songs and chants as well.

A man riling up the crowd against Morsi in front of the Palace's entrance.
A man riling up the crowd against Morsi in front of the Palace’s entrance.
One of the few children I saw tonight. She was leading the crowd's chants.
One of the few children I saw tonight. She was leading the crowd’s chants.
"Yes to legitimacy and no to the constitution."
“Yes to legitimacy and no to the constitution.”
A pickup truck with huge speakers. Those controlling it were quite vulgar in their language, but managed to rile up the crowd.
A pickup truck with huge speakers. Those controlling it were quite vulgar in their language, but managed to rile up the crowd.
This man sat like this for almost an hour on the stone walls, holding the Cross and the Qur'an.
This man sat like this for almost an hour on the stone walls, holding the Cross and the Qur’an.
What is a protest without some fireworks? Sadly my camera wasn't great at capturing them.
What is a protest without some fireworks? Sadly my camera wasn’t great at capturing them.
A 'Museum' of the revolution was set up outside the Presidential Palace and attracted large crowds of curious protesters.
A ‘Museum’ of the revolution was set up outside the Presidential Palace and attracted large crowds of curious protesters.

Tonight, Anti-Morsi Egyptians – in the tens of thousands (if not more) – proved that they are not a minority that should simply be ignored. I saw old men and women who could barely walk with their walking sticks attend the protests to call for the cancellation of the constitutional referendum. I saw young teen age girls run around screaming in English and French against Morsi.

However, as the Constitutional Referendum date nears (it is on Saturday the 15th of December), those protesting must make plans to go and vote ‘No’ during the referendum in the case that Morsi does not back down. A boycott of the vote will simply lead to the constitution passing as Morsi will be able to rally Islamists to vote ‘Yes’.

Although voting – and not boycotting – to some extent legitimizes what is illegitimate (in the sense that by voting, you are recognizing Morsi’s dictatorial decrees and the Constitutional Assembly that made this unrepresentative and illegitimate constitution), it is necessary in order to ensure that the voice of the majority and the non-Islamists is heard. If the hundreds of thousands (and in some cases millions) that have protested in the past few weeks go and vote ‘No’, then they will be able to defeat Morsi and his Islamist-allies at the polls and in the game he wants to play.

By far my favorite sign from tonight.
By far my favorite sign from tonight. It shows you the dirty politics that occurs behind the scenes.

Egypt: Living Under a Grey Sky
Egyptians Give Morsi a 'Red Card'

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