CAIRO: A march planned by supporters of President Hosni Mubarak turned into a brief gathering on Thursday, when less than 30 people turned up.
Assembled outside Abbaseya’s Nour Mosque in Cairo some 20 men carried placards reading “Yes to Mubarak, the man of war and peace.”
The march — whose date coincides with the date Mubarak was appointed president in 1981 — had been announced on the Facebook page of the May 4 Movement, a group of supporters of Mubarak who are calling on him to stand for another term of presidency during the 2011 elections.
There were also members of a group calling itself the Youth Movement for Prosperity, as well as the Popular Movement Against Civil Disobedience.
“We came today in solidarity with the May 4 Movement,” Amr Ammar, founder of the Popular Movement Against Civil Disobedience, told Daily News Egypt.
“It is very important to us that we send a strong message from Egyptian society to President Hosni Mubarak, telling him, ‘we’re with you and behind you’ just as President Hosni Mubarak is with us and behind us in the completion of the economic reform project he has started,” he said.
Ammar added that a “war of ideas” has begun targeting the minds of Egyptian youth and was critical of calls made by Mohamed ElBaradei, former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, for acts of civil disobedience such as his calls to boycott the upcoming elections.
“We have our own press and our own culture here; we don’t need to be equal with Western press and culture. We resolutely oppose Dr Mohamed ElBaradei’s call for civil disobedience,” Ammar said.
“Of course we support change. But there are tools for change. [Civil disobedience] leads to chaos. We say to Dr ElBaradei, ‘Doctor, we’re an Islamic society. We have our customs and values. We won’t drift to Western values.’”
Emad El-Shayeb from the governorate of Minya said, “When you talk about Mohamed Hosni Mubarak you are talking about peace and security for all of Egypt’s young people.”
El-Shayeb was critical of commentators who concentrate “only on the negative,” adding, “There are red lines and we should think about the nation.”
“Why do we only concentrate on the negative? During Hosni Mubarak’s tenure, infrastructure has been developed [and] schools and bridges have been built. Certain writers only present problems without contributing to their solution, whereas they have a social responsibility to come up with solutions.”
El-Shayeb alleged that certain commentators who “emphasise the negative” have “agendas. … God knows who’s behind them.”
While acknowledging that corruption is a problem, El-Shayeb explained that it was impossible “for every civil servant to be individually monitored.”
He again emphasized the “economic progress” which he says has taken place during the 28 years Mubarak had ruled Egypt.
“In the 70s every house only had one electrical equipment, a television or a transistor radio. Now every house has what people need. All these are indicators that an economic revival has taken place.”
Imam Taha, from Cairo, entreated the ruling National Democratic Party to appoint Hosni Mubarak’s son Gamal as deputy president.
“We want the situation to stay as it is; or rather we want Gamal Mubarak to be appointed deputy president so that we ensure stability and security. Mohamed Hosni Mubarak is the guarantor of stability and security in Egypt. We will not find another president who understands internal and foreign politics like him,” Taha said.
“Egyptians will never be humiliated [by foreign powers] because we have the great leader, or the spiritual father, Mohamed Hosni Mubarak,” he added.
All of the participants in the planned protest emphasized that they were not representing the National Democratic Party.
Malak Habashy, accompanied by his 14 year-old son, said, “I’m an Egyptian citizen who’s come here today to say that progress has happened during President Mohamed Hosni Mubarak’s rule. The political opposition are free not to acknowledge this progress if they wish.”
“I’m neither a member of the National Democratic Party nor a member of the opposition. I’m an Egyptian and supporter of nationalism. And from the perspective of nationalism, Presiden Mubarak has many advantages which are clear to everyone,” Habashy said.
Abdel-Rahman Mohamed, a 20 year-old student, said, “During Mubarak’s tenure we have seen justice, freedom of the judiciary, free elections and development in Upper Egypt and the Delta.
“I love my president because he is a good person for Egypt and he gave Egypt everything. He built factories. Anyone who graduated during his presidency will have a good job.”
Approximately two hours after they had initially gathered the group began dismantling the placards they had affixed to iron railings and dispersed.
One of the participants told the press that the march had been “cancelled by order of security bodies” and that next time they would begin the march closer to the endpoint, the Presidential Palace, approximately two hours away from the Nour Mosque.
Posters by the Popular Movement Against Civil Disobedience. (Daily News Egypt Photo/Sarah Carr)
Supporters of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak hold up portraits of their 82-year-old leader during a small demonstration in his support held in Cairo on Oct. 14. (AFP Photo/Khaled Desouki)