Conflict & Justice

Cairo news: Tahrir Square protests and crackdown enter Day 4 (LIVE BLOG)


Near Cairo's Tahrir Square. Nov. 21, 2011.


Trevor Snapp


UPDATE: 10/22/11 12:50 PM ET / 7:50 PM CAIRO

Egypt’s top military commander addressed the nation Tuesday evening on state television, following four days of violent unrest in cities throughout the country.

Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, the head of Egypt's Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, repeatedly that the nation's military would not seek the presidency.

Here's a few highlights from the speech, which was delivered in Arabic:

We will hand over power to an elected civilian authority.

SCAF is only interested in the interests of the people. We don’t care about who will win elections or who will be the next president. It’s up to the people to decide.

We are not looking into the presidency.

Tantawi also confirmed that he had accepted the resignation of the transitional government.

UPDATE: 10/22/11 12:16 PM ET / 7:16 PM CAIRO

The Egyptian military government has yet to make the concessions that have been reported - the complete transfer of power from military rule to civilian leadership by mid-2012 and the formation of a national salvation government among others. 

But swelling crowds in Tahrir Square seem to have already rejected them.

Thousands of Egyptians are gathered in Tahrir at this hour, chanting for a complete and immediate end to military rule in Egypt.  Egypt has been governed by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) since the ouster of former president Mubarak in February.

One journalist tweeted from Tahrir:

People in #Tahrir determined to change the regime to a civilian gov. Say they are tired of decades of military rule #egypt

Here's another:

#Tahrir reaction to "national salvation" Cabinet: "We are not leaving, he leaves," they chanted, referring to military ruler Tantawi

Meanwhile, protesters on Mohamed Mahmoud near Tahrir continue to push back slowly against police, who are firing heavily from an unlit portion of the street. Police shotguns rounds can be heard every few seconds. There are several bonfires burning in the area.

Just a few blocks away from Tahrir, however, GlobalPost's Erin Cunningham found that the rest of Cairo is going about its business as usual.

“We need to make ends meet, we need to support our families,” said one worker at a cafe near the frontline that was still serving customers.

UPDATE: 10/22/11 11:48 AM ET / 6:48 PM CAIRO

Egypt's ruling military held crisis talks with various political parties and movements in Egypt on Tuesday, amid the worst unrest in the capital, Cairo, since the country's uprising in January.

Although the military has not yet addressed the nation, some details of those discussions are beginning to emerge.

The Associated Press reports on Twitter that Egypt's ruling military will transfer power to a civilian government by 2012:

BREAKING: Egyptian politician: Military pledges to transfer power to civilian government by July 1, 2012. -EC #Tahrir #Cairo

AP cited two politicians who attended the meeting, Abu al-alla Madi and Mohammed Selim el-Awa, in reports.

Abou Elela Mady, head of the Wasat Party, said that Egypt's Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) will form a national salvation government to replace the transitional government that resigned on Monday, according to Al-Jazeera.

Another political figure who attended the crisis talks, Selim al-Awwa, reportedly said that Egypt's new government "would implement the goals of the revolution," according to the BBC.

Egypt's military commander, Mohamed Tantawi, will reportedly address Egyptians on television today. 

UPDATE: 10/22/11 10:10 AM ET / 5:10 PM CAIRO

Violence erupted on the streets outside Tahrir Square again. The truce failed after a lone protester, who was standing at the back of a crowd of hundreds near the police line, hurled a rock in the direction of security.

The entire street scattered after police responded by firing a gun into the air.

Clashes have been raging on Mohamed Mahmoud Street for more than 72 hours straight.


UPDATE: 10/22/11 9:35 AM ET / 4:35 PM CAIRO

Police and protesters have agreed to a temporary truce, as firetrucks race to extinguish a fire at a market in the streets near Tahrir.

There are thousands of Egyptians chanting against military rule on Mohamed Mahmoud Street, just three blocks from Tahrir Square and a short distance to the police headquarters.

Despite the ceasefire, the mood is very tense in downtown Cairo. Protesters and police are standing face-to-face.


UPDATE: 10/22/11 9:16 AM ET / 4:16 PM CAIRO

Egyptian state television is reporting that Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, the commander-in-chief and head of the nation's ruling military council, will address the nation at some point today.

Meanwhile, violent street battles continue raging in the streets in between Cairo's Tahrir Square and Egypt's interior ministry, where the police are headquartered. Egyptian police continue to fire tear gas canisters and rubber pellets to disperse the crowds. Still, hundreds of protesters are defiantly charging the police lines, attacking with rocks, Molotov cocktails, and chunks of concrete.

Two attempts at calling a ceasefire between police and protesters, including one brokered by a nearby military officer, have failed at the last minute, erupting in violence as both camps stood almost face-to-face.

Here's the Telegraph on what the scene looks like:

UPDATE: 10/22/11 7:45 AM ET / 2:45 PM CAIRO


Egypt's stock exchange suspended trading on Tuesday, following a loss of more than 4 percent, according to an AP report published in Al-Masry Al-Youm:

The Egyptian Exchange’s benchmark EGX30 index had fallen by over 4 percent so far on Tuesday, its third consecutive day of declines as protests and violence in downtown Cairo raised questions about the country’s stability days before pivotal parliamentary election are supposed to be held.

Market rules call for trading to be temporarily suspended if the broader EGX100 index moves by more than 5 percent.


UPDATE: 10/22/11 6:28 AM ET / 1:28 PM CAIRO

The student newspaper at the American University in Cairo has tweeted a video of the American study-abroad students who were reportedly arrested in Cairo over the weekend.

AUC's Caravan tweeted the following on Tuesday:

Video of detained AUCians, some of whom are Americans. MoI says they were arrested for throwing Molotovs at police

Here's the video:

CNN has also updated their story on the three American detainees:

The three boys were throwing Molotov cocktails and had no passports on them when they were picked up," said Adel Saeed, a spokesman for Egypt's general prosecutor's office.

David Lynfield, deputy press officer in the U.S. Embassy said the "claims are being currently investigated."

Authorities described the three Americans as students and said one had an Indiana driver's license.

"They have been questioned by the police and will be further investigated today by the Cairo prosecutor," Saeed said.

UPDATE: 10/22/11 5:48 AM ET / 12:48 PM CAIRO

Three Americans have been arrested during the clashes in Cairo, CNN is reporting.

From CNN:

Three Americans were arrested Monday outside the Interior Ministry in Tahrir Square and are accused of throwing Molotov cocktails during the protests in Egypt, a local prosecutor said.

A public relations official at the American University in Cairo confirmed to GlobalPost that three American study-abroad students had been arrested at some point over the weekend, and that the school was working with the U.S. Embassy to investigate their detention.


UPDATE: 10/22/11 4:45 AM ET / 11:45 AM CAIRO

Egypt’s military rulers have failed to improved human rights conditions in the Arab world’s most populous nation, according to a new report published by Amnesty International.

The London-based human rights group said that Egypt’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) has, in some cases, a worse record of abuses than that of former president Hosni Mubarak.

"By using military courts to try thousands of civilians, cracking down on peaceful protest and expanding the remit of Mubarak's Emergency Law, the SCAF has continued the tradition of repressive rule which the January 25 demonstrators fought so hard to get rid of," said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Acting Director.

The Amnesty report comes out following a bloody weekend of clashes in Cairo, with at least 33 deaths and hundreds injured. Read the whole report here.


UPDATE: 10/22/11 4:22 AM ET / 11:22 AM CAIRO

Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood released a statement Tuesday saying that they will not participate in any further protests "that may lead to more confrontations and tensions."

The Islamist movement also called on Egypt's ruling military to withdraw all security forces from central Cairo.

Now, it has become clearly evident that certain parties are intent on igniting the situation in Egypt’s Tahrir Square by attacking the demonstrators for three days running, with dozens dead and thousands injured. We therefore call for the rapid prosecution of all those who caused the heinous crimes that took place and were reported to the Attorney General. We also urgently call the government to stop the bloodshed by withdrawing the security forces from the bloody confrontation.

Read the whole statement here.


UPDATE: 10/22/11 3:59 AM ET / 10:59 AM CAIRO

Violent protests have raged in a small area of the downtown district in Egypt's capital, Cairo, for nearly 72 hours straight.  

Small-scale clashes between Egyptian police forces and around 300 protesters continued throughout the early morning on Tuesday.

Before dawn on Tuesday, some protesters managed to get within one city block of Egypt’s ministry of interior, a fortress-like headquarters for the police. Molotov cocktails were pitched into the lines of police, who responded by firing shotguns in the direction of the crowd. Several protesters fled the scene with critical injuries.

Here is video from the brief attack:

By late morning on Tuesday, intensified clashes between the two sides had resumed on the original front lines at Mohamed Mahmoud street. Police continued firing waves of tear gas to disperse the crowds.

Protesters, numbering in the thousands, responded with rocks and chants against the military-led government.

“Down with military rule!” screamed the swelling crowd.

Here is another video of the general scene on Mohamed Mahmoud - the epicenter of recent clashes - on late Monday and early Tuesday.


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