First Hand Account of Surmounting Protests in Egypt

Policebarricade

original photo, Cairo

Below is a first hand account on the surmounting protests erupting in Cairo against 30-year Egyptian president Mubarak:

We went to downtown to see what was going on and we were there from about 3:30 till 7:30 and it was crazy!!!! Hundreds of riot police, lots of riot trucks, screaming ambulances went back and forth, and loud chanting by the protesters! The protesters wrote graffiti on signs saying down with Mubarak, they pulled down NDP (National Democratic Party) signs and trampled them in the dirt. The police shot cannons of water from the riot trucks at the protesters and we ran for it but we still got wet. Rocks were being thrown by both sides and we’d have to turn and run because we’d see the riot police running at the crowds, straight at us, and then somehow the tide would turn and we’d see the riot police running like no tomorrow! We also saw one poor guy (probably a leader of the protests) being bodily dragged into the Mugamma (a government building where you go to get your visa and lots of other paperwork and things) while people were running around him and the police dragging him taking pictures and filming the scene! We were yelled at quite forcibly by the secret police who were standing around conspicuously in dark sunglasses with ferocious looks on their faces. And the protesters were chanting slogans loudly such as down “down with the system” and “down with Mubarak” and “Gamal tell your father the people hate him” and “Suzanne ask your husband why he is starving his people” and “Batil” which means “false!” and “HORREYA!” which means “FREEDOM!”. It was so exciting and exhilerating but also quite terrifying cause we were always having to be prepared to literally run for our lives, and we did many times in the four hours we were there. Not just from the riot police but from the crowds running at us, though the fact that the crowds were running at us with terror on their faces was a sign to run because who knows what was behind them! The police were also shooting out lots of tear gas, and so people were running from that, and there were walls and barricades of police barricading and blocking every street, keeping the people contained in the square. As we left at about 7:30 PM, right after we left and were walking away down Qasr Al Nil street toward Zamalek towards the car (away from Downtown) we looked back and saw that the police had now come and blocked that entrance (or even exit you could say). Who knows whether their intent was to prevent more people from coming in or to prevent people from leaving. We figure they were preventing people from coming in. It was getting weaker by that time. At the beginning people were chasing the riot trucks and jumping on them and pulling the doors open and pulling the drivers out but towards the end, while people were still chanting and even climbing on top of red light poles, there was a definite sense of weariness. People were tired I’m sure and hungry and simply beaten down.

Today [January 26th, 2011] there were supposedly renewed protests, though as you saw I’m sure, the police were severely cracking down on any and all protests and even group gatherings in certain areas of more than 2-3 people! I heard several conflicting reports about live fire, but I’m not sure. I read that live fire was being fired in the air, up, as a warning. But I’m not sure to what extent the use of live ammunition continued.

There are going to be major protests on Friday I think. Protests are being planned for that day, following the afternoon prayer. I’m so excited, I can’t wait to see what happens! But things are definitely pretty risky and dangerous right now.
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