Frequent meetings of senior Hamas members with officials in Cairo are not being well received by the dissident public. Anger among protesters over the relationship has increased following the terrorist attack in August, which took the lives of 16 Egyptian border police officers, and due to alleged involvement of Hamas in the prison break-ins during the January 25 Revolution.
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Egyptian authorities have yet to publish details on the perpetrators of the August attack, thus leading to the assumption that Palestinians from Gaza and senior Hamas officials were involved in the incident.
Evidence of a crisis took place on Monday this week. A Hamas delegation headed by Khaled Mashaal and Ismail Haniyeh arrived for a routine visit in the country, but in addition to their scheduled meetings, the delegation was in for an unpleasant surprise. According to Arab media reports, hundreds of people demonstrated in front of the hotel in which the Palestinian delegation was staying, and demanded their expulsion from Egypt.
Demonstration in Egypt
Most of the protesters were supporters of controversial media personality Tawfiq Okasha, identified with the regime of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. The demonstrators, who are among the Morsi opposition, conducted a ‘dress rehearsal’ for the main demonstrations expected to take place at the end of the month in Egypt against the ruling government, coinciding with its one year anniversary in office. The protesters also held up signs with pictures of former presidents Gamal Abdel Nasser and Anwar Sadat.
During the demonstration in front of the hotel, those present yelled out, "No to Mashaal and no to Haniyeh, they are a terrorist organization;" "Sinai to Egypt and not to Hamas;" and “the Egyptian Army is our army and Morsi is not our president."
Practicing for upcoming protests in Cairo this week
They also waved signs campaigning against the Egyptian president. “Morsi get out of here, we are not satisfied when those in control are murderers or terrorists.”
One of the protesters hoisted a sign that read:"Hamas is a knife in the heart of Egypt."
Newspaper A-Sharq Al-Awsat reported Wednesday that attorneys in Egypt called for the judiciary’s governing body to order the arrest of Hamas members. Within the Egyptian court system, a number of complaints against Hamas are pending, based on the argument that the Palestinian group interferes in Egypt’s internal affairs.
This week there were also reports claiming that Egyptian military officials refused the request of Mashaal to meet with them. Mashaal is said to have asked to meet with the senior army officials to prove good intentions in relation to the presence of Hamas in the country, and to make it clear that Hamas would not interfere in their internal affairs.
Newspaper Al-Quds Al-Arabi also reported Wednesday that following the demonstration held in front of the hotel, the Hamas delegation was asked to leave Cairo on Tuesday, one day before planned.
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