Egypt clashes kill 10, undermine Army narrative of democratic transition
This weekend's renewed violence in Egypt, including the documented use of live ammunition against unarmed protesters, has further eroded confidence in the ruling military council.
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Even as the military was attacking protesters, Egypt’s prime minister denied that security forces were using violence. Kamal Ganzouri, who was appointed several weeks ago after his predecessor resigned in the face of mass protests against military rule, said in a press conference that the protesters were against the revolution. He added that any gunshots came from an unidentified third party, not security forces. State television subsequently attempted to demonize protesters, running interviews with supposed demonstrators who said they had been paid to foment violence.Skip to next paragraph
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Outside Tahrir, many Egyptians readily agreed with the portrayal of the protesters as thugs, or disagreed with their decision to protest. “They deserve to die – they’re destroying our economy and stability,” says security guard Hassan Mohamed, who works in downtown Cairo. Many lauded the military’s oversight of relatively smooth elections over the past three weeks.
The official results from the second round of elections, held last week, are due out today. The geographically staggered elections for the lower house of parliament are scheduled to continue throughout January.
Some protesters suggested that the military felt it had enough popular support, partially from the strong participation in elections, to crack down on protesters without repercussions.
“They think no one will care when they beat us and kill us like this,” says a protester who gives his name as Ahmed. “They think no one will see, so they smash the cameras and tell lies about us on television.”
Bizarre, undisciplined behavior from soldiers
According to protesters, the clashes began Friday after the military detained and viciously beat a protester who was part of a sit-in at the Cabinet building calling for the end of military rule. After Saturday’s crackdown, the Army built a wall of concrete blocks in a large downtown street where clashes had centered, effectively dividing the Army from the protesters.
But both sides continued to exchange volleys of rocks and Molotov cocktails over the wall. Army soldiers also shot fireworks into the crowd from behind the wall, continuing bizarre and undisciplined behavior that included appearing to urinate on protesters from rooftops, and throwing furniture on the crowd.
But the violence and brutality continued a pattern from throughout the year, in which violent crackdowns on protesters inflame the situation and create further instability.
“The military keeps moving consciously to a point of no return,” says Mr. Bahgat. “It seems that they don't even bother to engage the protesters or maintain a minimum level of trust anymore, and clearly they are trying to also mobilize public opinion against the protesters and at the same time are not taking any measures to reform the civilian security forces but are in fact replicating the same heinous crimes committed by the civilian police forces.”
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