March 24, 2017

Protesters Control Tahrir Square After Clash

On the evening of Tuesday’s “Million Man March” in Tahrir Square, President Mubarak appeared for his second speech regarding the demonstration to announce he would not seek re-election in Egypt’s upcoming presidential election, which is currently scheduled for September. Similar to Mubarak’s first speech, when he announced the resignation of his entire executive cabinet, the protesters were not satisfied with this announcement. Protesters remained in Tahrir Square after the speech and vowed to remain until Mubarak steps down. On Wednesday morning, Mubarak supporters stormed Tahrir Square with horses, donkeys, and weapons to try to diffuse the demonstration. The video below shows the violent scene in Cairo.

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Thousands are injured and over 155 have already died since the demonstration began January 25th. Multiple journalists reported attacks from Mubarak’s supporters on Wednesday, including journalists from: CNN, the Washington Post, ABC, CBS, BBC, Australian Broadcasting, Swiss Television, and Danish Television. Anderson Cooper from CNN has video footage of Mubarak supporters attacking his crew. Crackdowns on the media began Thursday, January 30th, when the regime closed the Egyptian offices of Al Jazeera, detained their staff, and seized their equipment.

Despite the violence, pro-democracy protesters remain in Tahrir Square with the central goal of the immediate resignation of Mubarak. As reported on the Twitter account of journalist Sharif Kouddous, pro-democracy protesters captured infiltrators Thursday afternoon in an attempt to resume a nonviolent demonstration. Protesters claim the captured Mubarak supporters are “thugs” who have either had police identification or received payment from the regime to spark the eruption. As of 8 p.m. Thursday, Kouddous reports the atmosphere in Tahrir Square is calm, people are sharing food, people are cleaning the streets, and a sound system with a stage is setup. As a result, the demonstration not only continues, but does so with a growing passion.

Meanwhile, President Obama also made his second speech regarding the Egyptian demonstration on Tuesday and said he spoke with Mubarak for thirty minutes to tell him the US supports “an orderly transition that must be peaceful, it must be meaningful, and it must begin now.” Similar to Obama’s request on Friday evening to restore internet and cell phone services, Mubarak shunned Obama’s advice and has refused to begin an immediate transition. Considering the vast record of rights violations in Egypt, however, Mubarak’s stubbornness is not a surprise.

With the pro-democracy protesters maintaining their control over Tahrir Square, Mubarak must concede more before these protesters stand down. In the recent revolution in Tunisia, the President relinquished his control during his third speech regarding the demonstration, which was 29 days after the initial protests. While Mubarak may similarly step down during his third appearance, it will likely come sooner than 29 days after the first day of the demonstration. Thursday marked the tenth day of the pro-democracy demonstration.

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