Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Battle of Abbaseya

Something about this protest in particular reminds me of the protest against the murder of Khaled Said last year. The protest that objected to the brutality and impunity of Egyptian police was met with brutality. The message was clear, we can do whatever we want. In essence the protest of 23rd of July was similar. We went out to protest against the SCAF’s lies and dirty tactics and we were met with lies and dirty tactics.

The march started to Abbaseya a little after four in order protest in front of the Ministry of Defense. The weather had become more bearable and became much cooler along the way. What started out as a thousand protesters quickly grew to a little over three thousand as we marched on. The march was reminiscent of 28 January, and we called on to people to join us. This time it was different. Some people supported the march and others did not. The further we went from Tahrir, the more the people’s aggression towards us became palpable.

We arrived to the end of our road, blocked off by the military at the Mosque just before the bridge that takes you to Salah Salem road. It started out well, we were chanting against the SCAF and we were expressing our disappointment in a ruling council that had betrayed the people. Ten minutes had passed when the first clashes erupted from a side street near where the army troops were standing. The exchange of stone throwing commenced and from then on it was a disaster.

The military, being chanted against was happy to see rocks and glass flying at protesters from all sides. The protesters tried to escape but the stone throwing would not stop. The protesters fought back, but all too feebly. As time progressed they fought some more, but all exists were blocked either by the military or by men armed with rocks, Molotov cocktails and swords.

The military fired rounds in the air, but there was nowhere to escape to. The protesters were stuck between the military and hostile men who would not stop their aggression. As time passed by, there was shotgun fire, but the injuries from all the stone throwing were numerous. Every minute a protester was rushed in to the faculty of medicine close to fighting area.

It was difficult to find a spot where rocks were not being thrown. They came from all sides. They came from the top of the buildings along with Molotov cocktails all across the thin strip where protesters resided. They were hard to avoid and there was a consistent sense of danger.

The mosque was locked and would not let protesters in. There were army personnel inside the mosque. The protesters broke down the iron gate of the mosque that kept the protesters cordoned and created an exit.

At long last the Central Security Forces (CSF) appeared from behind the Molotov throwing aggressors and fired their long range tear gas canisters, upon which numerous protesters rushed out through the safe exit through the mosque gates into a safer street at the back.

On the way back, residents were accusing protesters of being spies and one of the bloggers Amr Gharbeya was kidnapped. He was accused of being part of the 6 of April movement which has been dubbed an enemy by the SCAF.

This is a brief recap of the events but they don’t do it any justice. In fact, there was no justice on that day. The protesters were trapped and the army and the violent antagonists were prepared for such a confrontation. The SCAF had already prepared the scapegoat, the 6 of April movement. People in the neighborhood were deluded into thinking the protesters aimed to burn down the Ministry of Defense.

There was so much blood. There were scores of protesters being rushed out of the battle front in order to get treatment with mostly bleeding heads. The people throwing rocks back were defending everyone else against a gruesome attack. The military stood idly, proud that the plan had worked. Protesters were no longer concerned with getting to the Ministry of Defense, they were concerned with their own survival. We walked through protesters with many injuries, but with even more determination. There was tension in the air, and a sadness that so much violence would occur for no reason.

It’s a hard truth to swallow that the army is currently betraying the people. No one is convinced. The Muslim Brotherhood are happy to condone injustice as long as their elections are not touched. The couch party does not care if we achieve stability through colonization. The rest of the regime are happy to spread lies so that they continue to thrive. Most people are too lazy to think. They don’t even ask themselves the expected questions. Why would the army not stop violence? Why was there nothing thrown at the army? Why did the army trap the people and not let them escape? But no, these questions are too much of an effort for most.

One of these days the foolish lazy people who do not even apply logic to the insanely naïve statements given by the SCAF will realize that they handed their lives and their dignity to an oppressor on a silver plate.

Those who went out in the first 18 days and do not understand what is going on today have forgotten why we went out in the first place. It was never about elections, we've always had elections. It was never about government, we've always had a government. It was about dignity, and we never had dignity. We still don't and that's why giving us all else but that will not console us.

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