Sunday, 24 July 2011

A revolution comes unstuck

A pro-democracy protester faces off against angry residents in the Cairo neighbourhood of Abbasiyah

Egypt's revolution took a sorry turn on Saturday (July 23) night. Some thousand demonstrators left Tahrir Square and marched toward the headquarters of SCAF,  the military council currently not doing the greatest job in the world of governing post-Mubarak Egypt. The march was stopped by lines of soldiers behind barbed wire out side Noor Mosque in the neighbourhood of Abbasiyah. Around half an hour after the unstoppable force of the marchers met the immovable object of the military barricade, the inevitable occurred.  
I didn't see who threw what first, but soon enough the Tahrir crowd were embroiled in running street battles with local Abbasiyah residents, angered by the demonstrators' presence and apparently bolstered by the infamous 'baltigia' thugs. Rocks, bottles and bricks rained down from the surrounding rooftops and side streets as the Tahrir protestors responded in kind: trashing cars, store fronts and probably homes in the process. There may have been more protesters in Tahrir following the events of Saturday night than there had been for a while, but this seemed like no way to fix the waning popularity on the Jan 25th movement.  As a doctor spectating from the neighbouring hospital said to my colleague Remco Andersen of the Dutch paper Volkskrant for whom we were both on assignment in Egypt: "Egyptians fighting Egyptians. What a mess this has become."


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