Thursday, 30 June 2011

Egypt: More than a 1000 injured in violent clashes

Over a 1000 people were injured in the most violent clashes between police and demonstrators since the 18 days of protests that led to the fall of the former president Hosni Mubarak on 11th February.

A major rally was being planned for 8th July. But these protests snowballed from a demonstration demanding justice for the martyrs, i.e., the speedy trial of police officers accused of killing more than 800 people in the attempted suppression of protests in those 18 days in January and February. The demonstrations became a focal point for the general frustrations of many at the slow pace of reform.

Police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at protestors who attacked them with stones in Tahrir Square on 28th and 29th June. There had been other clashes at the Balloon Theatre in Agouza. Protestors called for officials accused of serious crimes to be tried without delay. Some also called for Field Marshal Muhammad Hussein Tantawi, head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces currently ruling Egypt, to step down.

These were the first violent clashes in Tahrir Square for some weeks. Protestors were met by riot police with full gear and water cannon. One blogger said the police had invoked one of the protest movement's own slogans when they used a loudhailer to tell the crowd “You say, selmiyya [peaceful], well keep it selmiyya”. It was anything but selmiyya.

The army council said in a statement on its Facebook page that “the regrettable events that have been taking place at Tahrir Square have no justification except to undermine stability and security in Egypt according to a calculated and coordinated plan in which the blood of the revolution's martyrs is used to cause a wedge between the revolutionaries and the security apparatus in Egypt to achieve these goals.

"We urge the great Egyptian people and the young people who launched the revolution not to be carried away by such claims, work on resisting and aborting them to maintain Egypt's security and safety in such difficult circumstances."

Its reaction showed how little it understands the frustration of those who want rapid reform.

The demonstrations in Tahrir Square followed clashes nearby outside the TV building at Maspero after the adjournment of the trial on 26th June of the former interior minister Habib ElAdly. He faces the death penalty if convicted of charges of ordering state security forces under his command to use live fire to crush the protests of January and February. The families of some of those killed hurled stones at police and military vehicles in frustration after the court adjourned the minister's trial.

For more news and expert analysis about Egypt, please see Egypt Politics & Security.

© 2011 Menas Associates

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