Metro chief declares state of emergency after threats of protests

Chief of the Egyptian Company for Metro Management and Operation, Ali Fadaly, has declared a state of emergency in all metro stations today from 6 am to midnight in anticipation of potential sit-ins by “filthy specimens,” he stated on TV show Al-Ashera Masa’an (10 pm), aired on the privately-owned Dream TV channel on Monday.

The “filthy specimens,” Fadaly refers to are the masked members of the little-known “Penury” Movement (Dhank in Arabic), whom he claims are an offshoot of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.

Earlier in September, three masked men had uploaded a video on YouTube vowing to spark a “revolution of the downtrodden” and achieve “true national greatness.” The video got less than 3,000 views but has prompted the deployment of 120,000 soldiers and police conscripts across Cairo, Interior Ministry sources told the privately owned Al-Shorouk paper.

The group’s plan for today was to “take advantage of the presence of poor people on the metro and talk to them about oil and sugar [prices],” according to host Wael al-Ebrashy. This a task now made difficult by “coordination efforts to fight the manipulation of the people’s social and economic needs,” Fadaly reassured the audience.  The group had called people on their Facebook page on Monday not to leave the metro as a sign of protest.

“We will teach them a lesson they won’t forget,” Fadaly vowed, before explaining what the declared state of emergency would entail, which includes the readiness of security forces to turn alleged Brotherhood tactics against the group by “running after them, attacking them and then kicking them off the metro.”

The three men who made the video have been arrested, according to the privately owned newspaper Youm7. They all turned out to be members of the Muslim Brotherhood and owners of a variety of illegal weapons and fireworks, the paper claimed.

Twenty four people have been arrested for allegedly belonging to group, Al-Masry Al-Youm reported. The police report says they had masks and signs protesting inflation. There have also been clashes between tens of Penury members and the residents of al-Isaaf in Downtown Cairo.

The movement is reportedly one year old and cites its many Facebook pages as evidence of its presence in Egypt’s governorates. It is allegedly made up of young people with diverse political affiliations, who only wear masks out of fear of reprisal, Penury spokesperson, Marwa Adly, stated. The youths champion a variety of causes from fighting nepotism and poverty to protesting damage of electric appliances caused by the recurrent power cuts.

This is not the first time masked men have released videos vowing to fight the ruling regime. In August, an armed group called Helwan Brigades made a video reiterating Penury’s demands, although the Brigades vowed to achieve their demands through violence. They spoke of seeking revenge for the violent dispersal of the Rabea al-Adaweya and Nahda Muslim Brotherhood sit-ins in August 2013 and the ensuing crackdown. A member of the Helwan Brigades was later arrested while on the run in Alexandria. He is reportedly the one who filmed the video threatening the Ministry of Interior.

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