Egypt's government on #Jan25

Below is the press release sent to foreign journalists by the Egyptian government after the events of January 25 — I am putting it here for public interest. My own comments on the events are forthcoming, but I will include these notes on the press release:

- The Egyptian government did not allow today's protests, they were explicitly banned because they were without authorization, and the Ministry of Interior said that protestors would be dealt severely (presumably to dissuade people from joining).

- The Muslim Brotherhood has officially denied taking part in the protests, while experienced reporters such as CNN's Ben Wedeman as well as countless participants and observers stated that the protests were surprisingly distant from Islamist rhetoric.

- On the rule of law issue the government obviously has a point: the protestors violated the Emergency Law which bans gatherings of more than five persons, and did throw rocks at police. Make of that what you will. The government, however, may be breaking Egyptian law by interrupting certain types communications, notably internet and mobile telecommunications.

 

PRESS RELEASE

25 January 2011

 

·       Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Egyptians have a right to express themselves

·       Interior: Committed to protecting demonstrators and the public;  calls for respect for the rule of law

Cairo – Groups of protesters organized a number of demonstrations in Egypt today, mainly in the governorates of Cairo, Alexandria, El-Beheira, El-Giza, and El-Gharbia, with smaller demonstrations in a number of other regions.

Commenting on today’s events the Official Spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ambassador Hosam Zaki said that “Egyptians have the right to express themselves”, adding that these events while notable were not new to the country which had witnessed a number of protests since 2004 as part of its open environment of freedom of expression.

Ambassador Zaki added that Egyptian police forces were focused on protecting the demonstrators and the public, in notable contrast to recent situations in the region.

-In a statement released this evening, the Ministry of Interior said that its policy was to allow demonstrators to voice their demands and exercise their freedom of expression, and that during the course of today’s events it had, as noted by all observers, exercised maximum restraint and  that it had “been committed to securing and not confronting these gatherings”.

The Ministry noted that beginning around 3PM, a number of protesters, particularly a large number of those affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood in the Qasr El-Einy Street began to riot, damage public property and throws stones at police forces, leading to the wounding of a number of personnel.  The Ministry said that when around 10,000 protesters entered Al-Tahrir square, police forces took necessary measures to maintain order and protect public safety.

The Ministry called on all demonstrators to abide by the law and legitimate means of expression, and to avoid threatening the safety of bystanders, and public and private property.