Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Mass protests in the whole of Egypt threaten regime of Hosni Mubarak

Cairo, 25 January 2011. the central Tahrir Square taken over by protesters.

Thousands and thousands took to the streets in Egypt on Tuesday, January 25  to demand an end to 30 years old dictatorial regime of President Hosni Mubarak and his ruling National Democratic Party (NDP), which is the opposite of democratic.
The demonstrations were held at several places in the capital Cairo, but also in Alexandria, the second city in the country, Assiut and Aswan in the south, Mansoura, Mahalla and Tanta in the Delta and Ismailiyya and Suez in the east. The demonstrations continued even after dark. Thousand of protesters remained at Cairo's central Tahrir (Freedom) square, as well as thousands of the opolice. The crowds were asking for food and blankets. Sources told on Twitter that fast food shops from the area started to feed them for free.
The date of January 25 is Police Day in Egypt, to commemorate the fact that a police station in Ismaeliyya in 1952, six months before the takeover by Nasser's Free Officers, bravely resisted an attack by the British. Some 50 died. The choice of  this day as a day of protest against the government was chosen primarily as a protest against the violent death of Khaled Said, a man who a few months ago was beaten to death by police in Alexandria after he witnessed what presumably was a drug deal between police officers. But in the past week it became gradually clear that the demonstrations was growing out to be a much wider protests against the regime as such,  that has been the source of so much stagnation in the past 30 years. 

Cairo, Sharia Gamaat al dual al-Arabiyya (Street of the Arab nations)
Mehalla el-Kubbra in the Delta

Police initially acted not too violently, apparently not to give the crowds extra reasons to protest. Lateron, however, charges were executed, and tear gas and rubber bullets were fired. In Suez two people were killed. According to the police one who had respiratory problems died after inhalating tear gas, the other was hit by a stone. Hpwever, other sources said they were killed by live ammunition used by the police. In Cairo a policeman died after a stone hit his head. There was an unknown number of wounded, and the police made at least 30 arrests. On twitter it was reported that a group of protesters in Cairo stopped a fire fighter's truck which was to be used as a water cannon against the crowd and that housewives in Alexandria pelted police forces from their balconies with pots and pans. Like in Tunisia, which clearly served as a model for the protesters, the government closed Twitter, Facebook and telephone lines. 
Mass demonstrations like the one this Tuesday have  not occurred in Egypt since at least some 30 years. The country has been living under a state of emergency since1981 and demonstrations are usually strongly suppressed and answered with massive waves of arrests. The fact that large sections of the population - no doubt inspired by the courage of the people of Tunisia - now challenged the Amn al-merkazi (Central Security Forces) is clearly unprecedented. Protests on this scale cannot be stopped. If they, what is improbable, are not going to die out, it means that the regime of  Mubarak and his proxies will fall within days.

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