The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) has ordered the Agriculture Ministry to organize the largest ever celebration for Farmers Day on Friday 9 September, an event timed to clash with mass protests critical of the military council.
The protests against ongoing military rule, which have been organized by a number of revolutionary political movements, are due to take place in Tahrir Square on Friday and have been dubbed dubbed “Correcting the Path.” Protest organizers are aiming to challenge certain SCAF policies, such as military trials for civilians and the issuing of laws by the military council without wider discussion.
Observers believe the SCAF is trying to overcome its loss of public support by organizing celebrations and handing out gifts to members of the public, in addition to selling subsidized commodities. The military council also distributed foodstuffs to citizens during Ramadan.
According to an Agriculture Ministry source, the Egyptian armed forces are to ensure the safe entry and exit of those participating in the celebration, which is to be held at the Cairo Stadium in Nasr City, a district of Cairo.
The source added that 120,000 farmers are expected to take part in the ceremony in the presence of the head of the SCAF, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, Prime Minister Essam Sharaf, several cabinet members, Al-Azhar Grand Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayyeb, the Grand Mufti of Egypt Ali Gomaa, Supreme Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood Mohamed Badie, Pope Shenouda III, and a number of other officials and religious leaders in Egypt.
During the celebration, Tantawi is scheduled to distribute 200 land contracts to beneficiaries of the government’s Young Graduates’ project.
The SCAF is expected to announce a new annual holiday on 9 September, starting from 2012, called Farmers' Day.
Meanwhile, the Egyptian Farmers Union announced that it would boycott the ceremony, since the ministry ignored them when making arrangements for the event, despite the union’s status as the legitimate representative of Egyptian farmers.
The union called on Tantawi and Sharaf to cancel an event it described as “farcical” and “mocking the simple farmer.”
Translated from the Arabic Edition