Protests in Egypt against Gamal Mubarak succession plans
Sept. 21, 2010
Jack Shenker - Cairo
Hundreds of protesters take to streets of Cairo over widely held belief that president's son is being groomed to take over
Clashes broke out in central Cairo today after hundreds of Egyptians took to the streets to protest against what they claimed were plans for the president's son to assume power.
Lines of riot police encircled and attacked demonstrators opposed to Gamal Mubarak outside Abdeen palace, the site of a 19th-century nationalist revolt against monarchical and colonial British rule.
It is widely believed that Gamal, now 46, is being groomed to succeed his father, Hosni, 82, as Egypt's next ruler. The younger Mubarak accompanied the presidential delegation to peace talks in Washington this month.
Parliamentary elections, which the opposition wants boycotted, are due in November and presidential elections will be held in September next year.
The protest also spread to Alexandria, where it was reported that 30 demonstrators were arrested and women had their clothes torn. In Cairo journalists were among those beaten.
"They have been beating us. You can see the blood on my neck. We are a republic, not a kingdom," said a supporter of the opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei, who formerly ran the International Atomic Energy Agency and is considered a potential rival presidential candidate to Gamal Mubarak.
"If Gamal Mubarak becomes president, this country will go to hell. He cares only about businessmen.
"The people of Egypt are all dying. We are dying of poverty and we are dying of a lack of freedom."
Referring to the 1882 uprising, when Ahmed Orabi declared that Egyptians should no longer be slaves, the protester said: "After 30 years of Hosni Mubarak's rule we are saying the same thing today: we should not be slaves.
Later protesters tried to break out of the security cordon. Sympathetic bystanders threw in water bottles to trapped demonstrators.
Another protester said: "I am 30 years old and I still have not got enough money to marry. I can't find a job. Tell the world to help us. We are dying under Mubarak. Send an SOS." He then set fire to a picture of Gamal Mubarak. "We are supposed to be a democracy even though everyone knows it's a sham. We will not stand by while the presidency passes from father to son."
Gamal Mubarak has long been associated with a series of neoliberal privatisation reforms which have proved unpopular with many Egyptians.