The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

The Imbaba demo

A few days late, yes, but here are some quick thoughts on the Imbaba demo that took place on Wednesday. First, these protests seem to be getting smaller. I don't think there was more than 150 people (Josh says 300). Secondly, they seem to be attracting more dedicated activists (especially the communists/revolutionary socialists and Islamists as well as some bloggers) and less "ordinary people." Thirdly, media interests in still high judging by the number of journalists and photographers who attended (I would say 10-20% of the crowd). Fourth, the core of Kifaya is absent -- people such as Abdel Halim Qandil and so on. This demo was the creation of offshoot movements and Hamla in particular, or so I'm told. Fifth, there seems to be a distinct lack of effort in trying to encourage people to join in. Granted, this is difficult, but the demos are essentially small groups of activists surrounded by a double or triple cordon of Central Security goons, with bemused onlookers watching but not participating (even if they feel supportive, and many do). I'll leave the details to Josh who's more intimate with the details of who's who, but there are some interesting dynamics between Islamists and socialists that don't bode well for the unity of the movement.

One thing I found interesting was the slogans: they're getting more original every time I go, and some of them are quite funny. I particularly like the one in the picture below, which says "Heikal said it should be 10 years, but Hosni wants it to be 30" -- a reference to Nasserist figure and uber-journalist Mohammed Hassanein Heikal's recent statements about imposing term limits on the presidency. (Also, in Arabic the slogan rhymes: "Heikal qalha 'ashra seneen, wa hosni 'ayizha talateen")


More pictures and some videos will be posted later in the day.