President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi held a meeting on Monday evening with top officials in the Egyptian Armed Forces and the security directorate to review the security conditions in Egypt. This meeting comes against the backdrop of calls for protests on 11 November through social media.
The meeting was attended by Minister of Defence Sedki Sobhi, Minister of Interior Magdy Abdel Ghaffar, the head of Egypt’s intelligence directorate (Al-Mukhabarat), the head of the military intelligence directorate, and the head of armed forces operations, according to a statement issued by the presidency.
Al-Sisi reviewed the security situation in Egypt and any updates on the potential protests. The president also reviewed an armed forces report on the Martyr’s Right operation to combat terrorism in North Sinai.
Development projects must be carried out quickly for the residents of the Sinai peninsula, the president said. This includes the construction of new residential areas and other infrastructural projects, according to the statement.
According to information released by Al-Mukhabarat and other intelligence apparatuses, the government will carry out security preparations ahead of 11 November. The significant number of calls for the 11/11 protests on social media have raised concerns among state-run media outlets and the Interior Ministry.
Islamic Movements expert Ahmed Atta told Daily News Egypt on Tuesday: “Some are fearful about this Friday. There is a chance that militants affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood may enact a plan to create a state of chaos. State security will carry out preparations to prevent anything like this from happening.”
“Whether the armed forces will be deployed across Egypt, in anticipation of protests on 11 November, can only be determined by the state. Most likely, army personnel will only be present in the streets if [Al-Mukhabarat] identifies clear, direct threats from militants,” Atta explained.
The 11/11 protest calls caused speculation as to the identity of the instigators and their goals. A Facebook event named the “Movement of the Poor” or “Ghalaba” has gained almost 100,000 followers since it was launched in September. According to what can be gleamed from posts published on the page, no single political movement seems to be the instigator, but rather the movement identifies itself as independent.
An official spokesperson for the movement has been identified as Yasser El-Omda. Despite attempts by Daily News Egypt to contact the spokesperson, no comment was received from El-Omda or on the Facebook page.
According to a recent interview with private newspaper El-Nabaa, El-Omda is based in Turkey. He introduced himself as a poet who participated in the 25 January Revolution and considers the 30 June uprising to be a “military coup under civil rule”. He claimed that he is the only instigator of the calls to protest on Friday and that he called for a “revolution” due to deteriorating political and economic conditions in Egypt under the rule of the army.
A post published on his Facebook page uses the ongoing price hikes to galvanise citizens. The movement asserted in an earlier statement that increases in the price of goods should be met with public confrontation, adding that a number of European non-governmental organisations would be contacted about the 11/11 protests.
These calls to protest have been harshly criticised by many government officials through media statements and during press conferences. Media figures and political parties have rejected the protests, despite being critical of recent government policies, with some citing the movement’s lack of clear aims while other accused the Muslim Brotherhood of financing and sponsoring the movement.
In a recent ceremony held at the Police Academy to celebrate the graduation of a new batch of police officers, the interior minister asserted that security apparatuses are ready to face all challenges and will not be affected by rumours or allegations issued every now and then regarding 11 November.