Thousands fight police in Tahrir Square
Published Jul 11, 2011 9:51 PM
Thousands of angry Egyptians took to the streets of Cairo and Alexandria at the
end of June, battling the Central Security forces for hours before successfully
pushing the riot police back. These were the most intense clashes in five
months, since Egypt’s 18-day revolution in January that ousted
U.S.-client Hosni Mubarak.
The clashes saw the reappearance of the Central Security forces, who descended
upon the demonstrators en masse, blanketing the crowd with tear gas and
shooting rubber bullets at protesters, including the families of those martyred
during the revolution.
This police riot came exactly five months after the Jan. 28 victory of Egyptian
students and workers who fought the cops throughout the country and won. They
sent the regime’s thugs running back to their enclaves and even burnt
down police stations.
In what some are calling a new stage of the struggle, Egypt’s current
ruling military council has shown itself to be the same repressive, brutal and
unaccountable force as the old Mubarak regime.
At issue for the people is the military government’s failure to implement
demands made in the mass national demonstrations of January and February.
Specifically, people are enraged at the government’s refusal to bring to
justice the police responsible for the murder of demonstrators and its repeated
postponement of the trials of key figures in the former Mubarak regime.
Some former government ministers have been found guilty of corruption, but the
trials of the two men many hold responsible for the police killing of unarmed
demonstrators — Mubarak himself and the much despised former Interior
Minister Habib el-Adly, who was in charge of the police — have yet to
take place. On June 26, el-Adly’s trial was postponed for a second time.
Families of the martyrs of the revolution weren’t even allowed in the
The June 30 trial of two Egyptian police charged with the death of Khaled Said,
a 28-year-old man beaten to death in Alexandria last year, was also postponed.
Said died in June 2010, after being dragged out of an internet café by
plain-clothes police and assaulted in the street. Facebook pages set up to tell
Said’s story were used to coordinate Day of Rage protests on the streets
of Cairo on Jan. 25, beginning the struggle that ousted Mubarak.
Meanwhile, police accused of killing demonstrators continue in their posts, and
families of the victims report these cops are using their clout to try to bribe
or threaten them to drop their legal cases.
Families of martyrs attacked by police
The June 28 pitched battle in Cairo began when police blocked some families of
martyrs of the revolution from attending a meeting commemorating those killed.
They were attacked and arrested, causing angry protesters to gather at the
Interior Ministry, which controls the police. Later thousands flooded Tahrir
Square in solidarity. Protesters defended themselves against the police as they
had done in the past — by breaking up the sidewalks in the square and
pelting attacking police with pieces of concrete.
Thousands again took these issues to Tahrir Square on Friday, July 2, building
roadblocks and setting up a tent city where some planned to stay until their
demands were met. They want justice for the more than 850 people killed and the
estimated 6,000 to 11,000 wounded during the revolution.
The street battle continued on July 3, according to demonstrators, after the
tent city was attacked and set on fire by a group that contained police agents.
As the struggle in Egypt continues, the next major demonstration in Tahrir
Square has been called for July 8.
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