Although tensions relatively cooled after toppled president Hosni Mubarak appeared behind bars in his trial’s opening session Wednesday, a fresh clash between citizens and the military police saw the relationship between both parties take a turn for the worse and prompted preparations for more protests next weekend.
Tens of people responded to an open invitation to have Ramadan iftar (breakfast) by dusk in Tahrir Square on Friday, with no intention to stage a sit-in or to protest.
As joint forces from the military police and central security have been heavily present in epicentre of the January 25 Revolution since it was forcibly evacuated on 1 August, the gathering had to set up the makeshift banquet in front of the Omar Makram Mosque.
After those attending ate peacefully they were “attacked by military police, which resulted in many people sustaining injuries”, said one participant.
Activist Salma Said deplored the “unnecessary use of force”, saying protesters and revolutionaries will once again stage a sit-in that will last until the revolution’s as yet unmet demands are fulfilled.
While speaking to Tahrir TV, she said: “We took our food and headed towards Omar Makram after security personnel prevented us from staying in the square. We had our breakfast and everything was normal for a while.
“Approximately at 8pm, some of us started to chant some pro-revolution slogans. For example, some called for retribution against those responsible for the martyrs’ deaths.
“At the time, military police came to force us out. We were set to leave; they didn’t have to use excessive force to make us leave and that is what we told one of the officers.
“But the military police beat us up viciously; I was even kicked in the back in the process. An 11-year-old kid and his sister were beaten too. They were merciless. Another girl were beaten badly and her veil was taken off.
“Activist Abeer El-Askaree was injured and hospitalised with many others. The military police tazered us and used rubber bullets … injuries were numerous.
“The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) once said staging protests and sit-ins is a legitimate right for all Egyptians. We didn’t go to protest or to sit-in at the square and we were beaten.
“On Friday, we will stage a sit-in that shall last until the uprising’s as yet unmet demands are met.”
On his Twitter account, renowned novelist Alaa Al-Aswani also condemned what he described as unjustified “torture of citizens”. He also called on Egyptians to participate in the upcoming million-man march on Friday.
Last Monday, hundreds of military police and central security forces and regular police forcefully reopened Tahrir Square and ended a three-week long sit-in that was staged by forces from across the political spectrum, and who have been calling for the fulfillment of the revolution’s unmet demands.
Many forces suspended their participation in the sit-in before 1 August, leaving only a few protesters in Tahrir Square, including the families of the martyrs, which made the evacuation mission easier.
In the evacuation, many were injured and later complained of the “brutal way the military police” treated them.
Twenty five political parties and movements condemned the attack, including the Public Alliance Party, the Democratic Front Party, The Social Democratic Party, the Democratic Labour Party, the Freedom Egypt Party, the Revolutionary Youth Coalition, the Union of Maspero Youth, the Karama Party, the Campaign for Supporting Mohamed ElBaradei, the April 6 Youth Movement’s Democratic Front and the Hamdeen Sabahi Campaign.
These political forces are expected to take part in Friday’s massive protest.
Apart from those who will take to the street to voice displeasure at human rights violations and the use of force against protesters, the leaders of eight Sufi sects have formed an organisational committee to prepare for the protest, which will be entitled “In the love of Egypt”.
The purpose of the protest is to reinforce national unity between Muslims and Copts, challenge Salafist and Wahhabi thought, and promote the civil state, according to Alaa Aboul Azayem, founder of Al-Tahrir Party and leader of the Azmiya Sufi sect.