Friday’s anti-police protests in Egypt unopposed by security

By 6:00pm on Friday, tens of thousands were still gathered in downtown Cairo’s Tahrir Square after a day of mass protests. Demonstrators hit the streets in a number of Egyptian cities following Friday’s prayer, showing support for the martyrs’ families, deploring police ‎brutality and calling for swift and decisive actions against the culprits.

Police and ‎military forces were notably absent, presumably avoiding further clashes with the ‎protesters as they vented their anger over the events which transpired on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. ‎

About two hundred or so protesters occupied Tahrir Square overnight in preparation ‎for Friday’s demonstrations. Hours before the start of Friday ‎prayer, the square begin to swell with new arrivals, and by noon, the epicentre of the January 25 Revolution was nearly packed ‎with protesters. Many came to express their viewpoints and criticisms on stage via the loud speakers which have become typical of Tahrir’s Friday demonstrations.‎

As the heat became unbearable, protesters left, vowing to return to the square by 4:00pm.

Keeping with their promises, a massive march kicked off at 4:00pm heading towards the Cabinet offices ‎to reiterate the demands of the martyrs’ ‎families.

‎Ten political movements, including ‎the Revolution Youth Coalition, and seven parties, ‎including Karama, the Democratic ‎Front and the Tagammu Party, took part in the march. ‎

A group of people deviated from the march and moved towards the ministry of ‎interior, where military police forces were deployed.

According to an Ahram Online ‎reporter, some of the protesters threw rocks at the ministry while the rest stopped ‎them, chanting “peaceful, peaceful.”

According to several accounts on Twitter, ‎central security personnel stoned them back. ‎

Similarly, certain demonstrators from the bigger group of protesters, numbering around 4,000, penetrated ‎the Cabinet offices amid a notable lack of security presence.

The intruders were ‎pulled back by their fellow protesters as well.‎

Chants against Egypt’s de-facto leader Field Marshall Mohammed Hussein Tantawi were could be heard ‎throughout the day.

In the coastal city of Suez, El-Arbaeen Square witnessed a rally led by ‎the martyrs’ families.‎ The Revolutionary Youth staged a sit-in in Suez on Thursday in preparation ‎for Friday’s protest. As in the capital, neither police nor military forces were ‎deployed there.

To the north, demonstrators in Alexandria blocked the Corniche Street to protest ‎police ‎‎brutality. Among the protesters were members of the Revolutionary Youth Coalition, whom the popular ‎committees ‎have ‎been trying to persuade to end the road blockage.‎

Protesters across the nation have unanimously called for the suspension of all officers ‎accused of killing ‎demonstrators during the January 25 Revolution. There are also ‎calls for the execution of former minister of interior Habib El-Adly who ‎is ‎to have ordered the use of live rounds on protesters during the 18-‎day ‎uprising. ‎

Furthermore, protesters are stressing the urgency of trying ousted president Hosni Mubarak, his two sons, ‎Alaa and Gamal, and the rest of the former regime.‎

Among the other key demands are an end to the military trials of civilians, an inclusive ‎‎political process and the freedom of expression and the media.‎ The Supreme Council of the ‎Armed Forces, which took power when Mubarak was ‎ousted, has vowed to bring to ‎justice those found guilty of abuse or corruption, ‎ordering the trial of several old ‎regime figures, including Mubarak.‎

Many activists, however, have criticised the fast pace of the trials, demanding a credible and ‎‎thorough process for the sake of justice, not revenge.‎

Tensions between civilians and the police have escalated since Tuesday night, when altercations ‎between the martyrs’ families and police forces took place in ‎front ‎of the ministry of interior as well as at the Balloon ‎Theatre in Agouza, Cairo. ‎‎According to a number of accounts, thugs, who remain unidentified until now, were involved in the ‎fray.

During the 18-day uprising, an estimated 1,000 were killed while a further 1,000 remain missing.

Mubarak, his younger son Gamal and former minister of ‎interior Habib El-Adly are ‎believed to be the main instigators of the police force’s deadly ‎tactics towards the ‎protesters.‎


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