Advisory Update Regarding Demonstrations in Cairo and Alexandria
Posted: November 27, 2012
On 26 November, the U.S. Embassy in Cairo issued a new Security Message to inform U.S. citizens of large-scale demonstrations planned for the 27th in both Cairo and Alexandria. Please read the full text of the message (http://egypt.usembassy.gov/sm112712.html), with special attention to their advice and resources.
Please also read the travel advice below for both Cairo and Alexandria provided by International SOS. All UT travelers should adhere to the travel advice they provide. If you are currently abroad and find yourself in need of immediate assistance please contact International SOS anytime 24/7 at 1-215-952-8226 (main line) or 1-215-942-8478 (dedicated scholastic hotline), or call UTPD at 512-471-4441.
Anticipate unrest during anti-government demonstration at Cairo's Tahrir Square on 27 November (Revised 27 Nov)
Created and/or Modified: Tuesday, November 27, 2012 12:07:52 GMT
Personnel should plan journeys in the capital Cairo on 27 November circumventing the vicinity of the city's Tahrir Square, where several opposition groups are planning to stage a rally to denounce a new presidential decree, which grants President Mohammed Morsi far-reaching additional powers. Participants will begin marching to the square at 17.00 (local time) from several locations in the city and nearby areas. Clashes have already commenced in the area early on 27 November. The Muslim Brotherhood (MB) has postponed its march, which was scheduled to be held in support of Morsi on the same day at the Nahdet Misr statue in Giza (Giza governorate); no date has been set for the rally yet, though MB gatherings are still expected in other cities.
Despite reports emerging on 26 November that Morsi had agreed to scale back certain provisions of the decree following talks with senior judicial authorities, Morsi's spokesman stated that this was not the case and that no alterations would be made to the constitutional declaration. The decree protects the constituent assembly from being dissolved by the courts before the former completes the ongoing process of drafting the constitution. Several hundred supporters of more than 20 opposition groups remain encamped in Tahrir Square after commencing a week-long sit-in protest against the decree on 23 November.
While the postponement of the pro-Morsi rally has reduced the potential for clashes between rival demonstrators in the immediate term, some MB supporters may still rally and violence between protesters and the security forces, or between rival groups, remains a credible prospect. Opposition protests in Tahrir Square in recent days have repeatedly led to violence, underlining the need to avoid all gatherings. In particular, demonstrators have used Molotov cocktails to target the security forces, which have responded with tear gas, birdshot and rubber bullets. Any outbreak of violence between protesters and the police, or between rival groups, would pose incidental risks to bystanders. Heightened security and the expected high levels of participation will exacerbate Cairo's already severe traffic congestion; personnel should plan journeys avoiding Tahrir Square and any other known rallying sites to minimize inconvenience. While travel to and within Cairo can continue, personnel should monitor developments closely and be aware of what to do in the event of a security incident. Personnel in or travelling to Cairo and other cities are advised to liaise with local contacts for information on any planned rallies and avoid them as a security precaution.
The latest developments follow a series of opposition protests that began on 19 November, initially as gatherings commemorating demonstrators killed in Tahrir Square a year ago. However, they have evolved into opposition-led protests against Morsi's Islamist government and have been given added impetus by the new presidential decree. The protests have led to repeated clashes between demonstrators and the police; at least two people have been killed and more than 250 people, including police officers, have been injured in violence. The security forces have routinely used tear gas to disperse demonstrators in Tahrir Square. Arson attacks and vandalism have also taken place; unconfirmed reports indicate that government supporters attempted to set fire to the protester encampment at Tahrir Square earlier on 25 November. Separately, the authorities stated that protesters overnight on 24-25 November also attempted to set fire to MB offices in the northern city of Damanhur, the capital of Beheira governorate, triggering clashes with the group's supporters and resulting in several injuries. Earlier, the offices of the Al-Jazeera news channel near Tahrir Square were attacked and burnt by protesters on 21 November.
Travel Advice Summary
- Travel to and within Egypt can continue.
- Widespread travel disruption in the capital should be anticipated in connection with the planned rallies, and high levels of participation should be expected.
- Plan alternative routes to mitigate inconvenience and limit exposure to violence.
- Avoid all large gatherings due to the credible prospect of violence.
- If you encounter unrest, where possible to do so safely, leave the area immediately and return to your accommodation, remaining there until the situation has stabilized.
- Liaise with local contacts to remain apprised of developments.
- Be aware of what to do in the event of a security incident.
- Visit our online travel security pages on Egypt for more information.
Violence expected as Islamist groups plan march in Alexandria on 27 November
Created and/or Modified: Tuesday, November 27, 2012 11:46:19 GMT
The Muslim Brotherhood (MB) group has announced its intention to join a march with hardline Islamist groups on 27 November in the northern city of Alexandria (Alexandria governorate), in support of President Mohammed Morsi. Meanwhile, anti-Morsi demonstrations are also planned in the city; while specific locations are unclear, protests often affect its Shatby neighborhood.
According to reports, MB demonstrations are also expected in other regional centres, despite the fact that the group's main march in the capital Cairo has been postponed to avoid coinciding with a large anti-government demonstration expected to take place in the city's central Tahrir Square. Unrest has been reported early on 27 November in streets around Tahrir Square, where clashes continued between protesters and the security forces, highlighting the credible risk of further violence in the coming hours.
- Avoid all demonstrations as a security precaution, including at Tahrir Square in central Cairo and around central squares of prominent cities nationwide.
- There is a credible risk of violence in all urban centres on 27 November and personnel should limit movement in areas known to be affected by protest activity.
- Plan alternative routes to limit exposure to violence and minimize inconvenience during overland journeys.
- Be aware of what to do in the event of a security incident.
- Monitor our travel security pages on Egypt for related developments.