Protesters Denounce Governments Amidst COP27

The Location of This Year’s Climate Conferences Stirs Controversy

This year’s COP27 was held in Egypt. Photo Russell Tellier

“Free Egypt,” “Free the journalists,” chanted Montrealers at Norman Bethune square.  

 A small group of 15 activists gathered on Nov. 12, at 1 p.m. to protest against Egypt’s regime and Western governments’ actions towards it. Egypt is currently hosting the 27th United Nations Climate Change Conference, which is being attended by a Canadian delegation under the leadership of environment Minister Steven Guilbeault.

 Protest organizer, Ibrahim Alsahary, said that the Egyptian regime of Abdel Fattah El Sisi is “a brutal and corrupt military dictatorship” supported by Western governments. 

Alsahary called on Justin Trudeau to stop “greenwashing” the Egyptian regime. “COP27 meetings will not bring climate justice,” Alsahary said.

“Western nations are aware of the horrible violations that are being done by the Egyptian government, yet they continue to not take action in exchange for arms deals and trade deals,” said protester Menna Hegab.  She and her fellow activists hope to pressure Western governments into changing the way they treat the Egyptian government.

Hegab stated that over 60,000 political prisoners are currently being incarcerated by El Sisi’s regime. Alaa Abd el-Fattah is one of those prisoners. He went on a hunger strike for 200 days and said that he would stop drinking water on the first day of COP27, according to Hegab.

“It’s a terrible dictatorship and what is really sobering is that the West is turning a blind eye.” — Samaa Elibyari

“We see, for instance, how the protests in Iran were covered, but when it comes to Egypt, it seems that nobody cares.”

In a National Post article published the same day of the protest, Elibyari wrote that COP27 should not have been held in Egypt, and that Guilbeault should support Egyptians’ right to freedom of expression. Elibyari is a member of the Canadian Council of Muslim Women and a board member of the Egyptian Canadian Coalition for Democracy

Right outside Concordia’s downtown campus, the protest was monitored by three police cars. There is no climate justice without human rights," stated some of the picket signs held by the protesters, while others read "System change, not climate change."Some people driving by honked in support of the protest. 

“We’ve committed to Canadians that we were going to tackle climate change and that we were going to do it faster,” stated Guilbeault. “And that’s exactly what we’re doing.”