Via Egypt Independent, by Mohamed Elmeshad--click the link and read on.
The scene has become familiar: streets splashed with rubble and broken glass; torn down sign posts leading to barricades of scrap metal manned by weary volunteers; exhausted doctors outside a makeshift field hospital; tents filled with young men and women socializing, resting, planning or doing daily chores.
This is a sit-in that has just seen an atrocity.
Over the past year, street battles have erupted on a near-monthly basis between anti-government protesters and various combinations of military, security forces and so-called “honorable citizens,” known to others as thugs. The latest round, near the Defense Ministry in Abbasseya, left at least 11 people dead and scores injured.
It is usually unclear how these clashes begin and how they escalate. When they do, they dramatically change the composition of the protest and the motivations behind it. But the latest round of violence, in Abbasseya, suggests that some protesters might be moving into a newly confrontational — and armed — form of resistance and self-defense, to the consternation of many activists.
The sit-in began on Friday, after supporters of disqualified presidential candidate Hazem Salah Abu Ismail moved their protest from in front of the Presidential Elections Commission to the Defense Ministry near Abbasseya. After some initial confrontations with plain-clothed individuals on Saturday, other political groups joined the sit-in, in front of Ain Shams University, which is adjacent to the ministry, to protest the military council’s rule and what they see as irregularities in the presidential elections process.
“The sit-in is no longer about Abu Ismail, it is against what will be fraudulent elections in the presence of corrupt judges on the elections commission and Article 28 of the Constitutional Declaration [which disallows appeals against the commission’s decisions],” said Abu Ismail supporter Tareq Hefny, who has been present since the sit-in in front of the elections commission.
Groups like the April 6 Youth Movement and Youth for Justice and Freedom, as well as non-affiliated individuals, joined the sit-in.
“I came to protest the SCAF's decision that the constitution be written while they are in power,” said Mohamed Gad, a 22 year-old member of the Abdel Moneim Abouel Fotouh presidential campaign. As Gad pointed out, the majority of the sit-in does not comprise of Salafis or just Abu Ismail supporters.
After the clashes that began early Wednesday morning and continued until noon, many at the Abbasseya sit-in were left pondering the bloody turn of events, and what it means for them. They were especially upset with the complete absence of security to stop the violence until Wednesday at noon, after many had already been killed.
“I started coming two days ago, to increase pressure on the rule of the military council, but stayed when people began to get attacked. This morning thugs came into our camps and literally slaughtered some of those in the sit-in when they left,” said Rehab Ali, a 17-year-old high school student.
Ali comes to the sit-in behind her parent’s back, but as a strong supporter of the April 6 Youth Movement, it is important for her to be at sit-ins, whatever the cause, when people’s lives are threatened. “If people like me don’t go to the front lines, the thugs will advance and have their way with any revolutionary,” she said.
Early Wednesday morning, the protesters were attacked by armed assailants, beginning with tear gas and rock throwing, and escalating to birdshot fire and live ammunition, according to eyewitnesses. The fighting spilled onto the streets of the neighborhood’s residential areas as protesters and their attackers exchanged blows using a variety of weapons.