Hundreds of Egyptian protesters gathered outside the Intercontinental Hotel in Cairo Monday evening to protest the visit of a high-ranking Hamas delegation to the country.
Organized by grassroots anti-Morsi organizations including the Coalition of Army Veterans and The Free Front for Peaceful Change, the protesters chanted anti-Hamas slogans and carried signs reading “The Egyptian people reject traitors in our land,” and “Who will you kill this time?” They were referring to Hamas’s believed involvement in terrorist activity in Sinai and in stirring violence during the anti-Mubarak uprising of 2011.
Madhat Haddad, coordinator of the Coalition of Army Veterans, told Egyptian daily Al-Youm A-Sabi’ that his men attempted to storm the Intercontinental Hotel and capture the Hamas delegation “to trade them for [Egyptian] officers abducted in Sinai.” Issam Sharif, coordinator of the Free Front for Peaceful Change, told independent daily Al-Watan on Sunday that Hamas’s entry into Egypt posed a “national security threat.”
Hamas has been engaged in an effort to rebuff these claims, which have been circulated by Egypt’s independent media in recent months. Hamas insists that Egypt’s independent press is engaged in a concerted campaign to defame it, aimed at shaming Muslim Brotherhood President Mohammed Morsi.
According to Emirates-based newspaper Gulf News, the Hamas leaders were officially asked to change their hotel ahead of Monday evening’s demonstrations.
On Monday, Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi met with Hamas politburo chief Khaled Mashaal to discuss the movement’s reconciliation efforts with Fatah conducted under Egyptian patronage. The delegation also included Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and Mashaal’s deputy, Mousa Abu Marzouq.
But opposition forces told local media that the real aim of the secretive meeting was to coordinate an Islamist effort to repel mass anti-government demonstrations scheduled for June 30. A signature campaign calling for Morsi’s resignation garnered at least 13 million signatures as of June 10.