A press conference organized by Egypt Air employees accusing presidential candidate Ahmed Shafiq of corruption was cut short when supporters of the candidate showed up.
The conference was cancelled following minor scuffles between the two groups.
While Shafiq’s campaign considers his accomplishments as Minister of Aviation from 2002 to 2011 as his strongest attribute in his bid for presidency, a group of his former employees called for a press conference on Saturday in the Journalists Syndicate to present what they say is proof of Shafiq’s corruption during his tenure at the ministry.
But when Shafiq’s supporters showed up and disrupted the press conference, the event turned into a chanting and name calling match between the two groups that continued for over an hour outside the syndicate, escalating into physical confrontations at times.
Mohamed Hozayen, a pilot in EgyptAir and one of the organizers of the press conference, told Egypt Independent that the group decided to hold the press conference after they discovered incidents of corruption in which Shafiq is implicated.
Hozayen says that the group has filed 32 charges of financial corruption and wasting public funds against Shafiq but so far they all remain uninvestigated.
Wassat Party MP Essam Sultan brought up similar accusations of corruption against the former minister last week when he filed a complaint at the general prosecutor accusing him of wasting public funds for the benefit of Gamal and Alaa Mubarak, the sons of the toppled president.
“Shafiq is a respectable man, I heard of what was happening here so I came to support him, I’m not an activist but I care about what’s right,” says Mahmoud Fouad, the manager of a Kodak branch in the same street, who was among those who showed up to defend Shafiq.
The syndicate resorted to cancelling the conference for security reasons.
The pro and anti Shafik camps, however, continued their standoff outside the syndicate.
Infuriated over their failed presser, the organizers stood on the stairs of the syndicate chanting “Shafiq is a thief,” among other chants that criticized him as a continuation of Mubarak’s era and of the military rule.
They also snatched some of the candidate’s posters from the opposite group, stepped on them and held their shoes to Shafiq’s pictures. As they chanted opposite Shafiq supporters, which they referred to as “power slaves.”
On the other side of the street, Shafiq’s supporters, clearly coming to the event prepared, spread out banners and posters of their candidate, many wore Shafiq campaign t-shirts. They chanted at the other group “agents, traitors, ungrateful.”
Egypt Air employees announced that they would make a second attempt at a press conference tomorrow at the airport.