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06CAIRO4611 2006-07-27 14:11:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Cairo
Cable title:  

TFLE01: EGYPT: JULY 26 DEMONSTRATIONS

Tags:   PGOV PHUM PREL EG 
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1. (U) SUMMARY: On July 26, an estimated 1000 Egyptians gathered
in Cairo's central Tahrir Square to protest Israeli attacks on
Lebanon and Palestine and to criticize a perceived lack of response
on the part of Arab governments. Police cordoned off the protesters
and several violent scuffles broke out, although the protest ended
relatively peacefully with no serious injuries or arrests reported.
The Muslim Brothers' parliamentary group is asking for permission to
hold a major rally on August 15, and, together with other
parliamentary groups, is collecting signatures required to call a
special parliamentary session to discuss support for the Lebanese
and Palestinian resistance. End Summary.



2. (SBU) An estimated 1000 Egyptian demonstrators gathered in Midan
Tahrir (Liberation Square), in central Cairo between 6 and 9 p.m. on
July 26. The demonstrators condemned Israel's killing of Lebanese
civilians, expressed support for the Hezbollah militia, and urged
Arab regimes to get tough. They waved Lebanese and Hezbollah flags,
carried portraits of Nasrallah, and held up photos of wounded
Lebanese civilians. Chanted slogans included, "Down, down, Hosni
Mubarak," "Down with the US-Israeli terrorist alliance," "Shame,
shame: Egyptian soldiers left the battle," and "Where are the Arab
armies?" One banner read, "Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon: who's next?"
According to photographs and eyewitness reports, hundreds of police
were also present. During the demonstrations a large force of riot
police formed a cordon around the protesters while baton-wielding
plainclothes officers scuffled with some demonstrators and
journalists.



3. (SBU) The demonstration was organized days in advance by the
protest group Kefaya in collaboration with the Wafd, Nasserite,
Ghad, Tagamma and Labor parties and the Youth for Change movement.
Online blog postings for the protest asked those attending to bring
Lebanese and Palestinian flags. These postings featured a slogan,
addressed to Arab leaders, reading, "Your Majesties, Your
Excellencies... Spit on You!" According to local Embassy staff, the
Muslim Brotherhood was not well-representated at the demonstration.
Despite the long lead time, this demonstration was significantly
smaller and less violent than the May 2006 protest in support of the
Egyptian judges. Those judges had been arrested after filing a
complaint about government interference in the 2005 Parliamentary
elections.



4. (U) July 26 was also the fiftieth anniversary of the
nationalization of the Suez Canal by former Egyptian president Gamal
Abdel Nasser. In recent Cairo demonstrations, Egyptian protesters
have chanted slogans comparing Hezbollah head Nasrallah to the Arab
nationalist leader Nasser, while in the press, Nasser has been
hailed for having "stood up" to the Israelis during the Suez Crisis
and the Six Days War. Editorials have contrasted Nasser with
Mubarak, who is accused of being too conciliatory in his dealings
with Israel. At the July 26 demonstration, for example, protestors
denounced Mubarak for comments published in the Egyptian press on
Wednesday, including the statement that "those who urge Egypt to go
to war to defend Lebanon or Hezbollah are not aware that the time of
exterior adventures is over."



5. (U) The Muslim Brothers' parliamentary members are planning to
request permission from the Minister of Interior for a major rally
at Cairo's stadium on August 15. The Muslim Brothers, along with
NDP and opposition members, also plan to meet Sunday to collect
signature of 50 percent of parliament members to submit a request to
the President - according to the constitution - to hold a "special
session" at the parliament to discuss means of supporting the
Lebanese and Palestinian resistance.