Tahrir Square sit-in, clashes enter second day
Dina Samak, Sunday 20 Nov 2011
Ever more protesters join demonstration against ruling military council as Central Security forces reinforcements are rushed to the scene

Demonstrations in Cairo’s Tahrir Square entered their second day on Sunday with thousands of protesters joining a sit-in that began the previous evening to protest police violence used against Saturday protests that left two dead and at least 680 injured.

Protesters hurled chants against both the interior ministry and Egypt’s ruling military council, the latter of which has governed the nation’s affairs ever since the February ouster of president Hosni Mubarak. "If you’ve forgotten the revolution, we’re prepared to sacrifice more martyrs," they shouted.

Mohamed Mahmoud Street, which leads from the square to the interior ministry building, remains jammed with protesters trying to approach the ministry. Police have answered with tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the crowds, while activists have repeatedly fallen back and regrouped before reattempting to march on the ministry.

Despite the pervasive smell of tear gas, activists continue to erect new tents in the square, where several makeshift field hospitals have already been set up. Doctors have requested medical supplies to treat the wounded, most of whom are suffering from suffocation and other injuries.

Motorcycles were hastily converted into field ambulances to transport the injured to the field hospitals, while activists have begun collecting donations of medical supplies, blankets and food.

Marches from Cairo University to the square have also been organised by some students and professors, while the members of several political groups have joined the sit-in. The “Revolution Continues” electoral bloc, for one, has announced that it would freeze its electoral campaigning until further notice and would join the protesters.

The first round of Egypt's first post-Mubarak parliamentary elections are scheduled to begin on 28 November.

The interior ministry announced on Sunday morning that a total of 766 people had been injured in clashes on Saturday in Cairo, Alexandria and Suez, while two protesters had been killed. One of the latter, 23-year-old Ahmed Mohamed Ahmed, was killed in Cairo after being shot in the chest by police firing live ammunition, while another protester in Alexandria was reportedly shot in the head.

The Egyptian Journalists Syndicate issued a statement on Saturday night slamming the violence used against reporters and photographers covering the events, which left at least ten journalists injured and one under arrest.

The decision by police to evacuate Tahrir Square early Saturday morning appears to have backfired, with the heavy-handed tactics deployed against a small contingent of overnight protesters enraging activists and prompting tens of thousands to flock to the square – the epicentre of Egypt’s January revolution – to defend their right to stage public demonstrations.

As of press time, reinforcements of security personnel from Egypt’s notorious Central Security Forces were being rushed to the scene in ever greater numbers to break up the burgeoning protests.