Egyptian protesters storm Suez Canal project meeting

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Demonstrators stormed a conference in the Egyptian city of Port Said on Thursday to protest against a planned Suez Canal Corridor project.

The project aims to implement development initiatives “related to the shipping industry” in Egypt’s three canal governorates of Port Said, Ismailia and Suez, Hesham Noman, chairman of the Port Said Movement in the Suez Canal Authority, told Al Arabiya English.

Protesters demanded that the attendees leave the meeting, he added.

The protesters consisted of workers at Port Said’s SCA and members of the province’s syndicate of engineers, Egyptian journalist Mohamed al-Halawany told Al Arabiya English.

They are against a proposed law regulating the project, saying it will negate Egypt’s control over the Suez Canal, and grant foreign investors substantial leeway in their use of it, stated al-Halawany, who was present at the scene.

The canal is a vital waterway connecting Europe and Asia.

“They’re against [the initiative] because they consider it equivalent to selling Egypt to foreign countries,” said al-Halawany.

“The proposed law doesn’t guarantee legislative overview over the project. However, it appoints 15 board members, chosen by the Egyptian president, who’ll be in charge of handling it,” he added.

Lack of clarity and trust between authorities and the people are affecting the public’s perception of the project, Noman said.

“The demonstrators don’t reject the project. They’re worried about the ambiguity that surrounds it,” he added.

Muslim Brotherhood blamed

The “chaos” inside the conference began when an attendee from the ruling Freedom and Justice Party - the Muslim Brotherhood’s political arm - “verbally insulted” one of the protesters, al-Halawany said.

Party members physically assaulted three journalists at the scene, he added.

People are blaming the Brotherhood for the SCC’s perceived faults, “because they’re the ones who draft laws and are in charge of making such decisions,” Noman said.