Returned from Abu Dhabi at 4am today — just in time for another wave of unimaginable state violence. Military police (i.e., the army, NOT just the Ministry of Interior) have spent all day attacking protesters, breaking up a 3-week-old sit-in outside the Cabinet building with beatings and live fire, even (get this) throwing Molotov cocktails at protesters from the roofs of government buildings. I was offline this morning, taking the kids to visit the Pyramids (had to do it eventually), so first heard about the events because my journalist friend, with whom we were supposed to meet up at a birthday party in Kit Kat, said he was unable to leave his house in Qasr El Ainy. Under siege, again.
I’ll try to write more soon; meanwhile you can read this astonishing chronicle, from what is actually a state run-paper. Among the highlights:
2:15pm A doctor at the scene told Ahram Online that the fighting began when a group of protesting Ultras were playing a football match early in the monring in front of the Cabinet building. The ball flew into the building’s courtyard. When one of the Ultras, named Aboudy, jumped into the building to try and retrieve the ball, he was brutally beaten by security forces. He is now in Qasr El-Aini Hospital.
8:15pm Pitch battles continue in Qasr El-Aini Street as security forces attack protesters on the ground with rocks and Molotov cocktails from the roofs of smouldering government buildings. The protesters have been fighting back all day and, with the ruling military council failing to take any action to restrain the forces under their command, this shows no sign of ending any time soon.
The photos and videos circulating online are pretty amazing too. Army personnel attacking Egyptians with electric cattle prods, dragging them by the hair. A protestor who was an Azhar scholar of Islamic law has been killed; women wearing the full face-veil have been beaten. Yet someone I had coffee with late tonight (a professional actor, hangs out with liberals, etc.) blamed the protesters for what he called their naivete in retrieving a soccer ball (“You idiot! It’s the Ministry of Interior, not the yard of the lady next door!”), not at all the military for perpetrating obvious and gratuitous violence against its own people.
Can’t believe we are leaving this country tomorrow night. Don’t want to go. Feels like abandoning the bedside of a friend who is very dear — and very wounded. Who knows when and in what shape I will see him again.