Abbasiya protesters blame SCAF, media for violence

Sarah Mourad , Wednesday 2 May 2012

Well-organised thugs attack peaceful sit-in in scenes reminiscent of November's Mohamed Mahmoud clashes, media blamed for turning locals against protesters

Egyptians clash
Egyptians clash in Cairo (photo: Mai Shaheen)

Violent clashes between protesters and unknown assailants outside the defence ministry in the Cairo district of Abbasiya Wednesday have left 11 dead and 49 injured according to official interior ministry sources.

Unconfirmed reports coming from makeshift field hospitals in the area put the death toll at 20 and over 60 injured.

A doctor at one of the field hospitals told Ahram Online at around midday that they were still receiving wounded protesters and were in need of additional doctors and medical supplies.

Rocks and blood littered the ground and field doctors used microphones to inform local volunteers of their needs.

Some protesters complained that media coverage of the violence gave the impression that most of the protesters were there to protest Abu-Ismail's disqualification from the presidential race, when there were other demands such as Article 28 of the March 2011 constitutional declaration – which is not subject to judicial authority – which led to his disqualification.

"Some of us are not even Salafists or Abu-Ismail supporters, but came in support of the same demands," said one protester. They were primarily protesting against the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) which was "the main reason why the country has faced such trouble since the January 25 Revolution," he added.

Protestors blame the SCAF

Another protester said the thugs who attacked the peaceful protesters were "very organised" and were directed by the SCAF "just like the Mohamed Mahmoud and Cabinet clashes in November."

Noha Maged, a protester, explained that she thought the SCAF was trying to create chaos in the country by creating such incidents and by killing protestors just like they did back in the November 2011 clashes.

"They want to postpone the elections to remain in power, that's why they are trying to create chaos in the country," Maged said, in reference to presidential elections scheduled for 23/24 May.

On the other hand, many Abbasiya residents were furious at the protestors and blamed them for the violence. "What else do you want?" and "SCAF is leaving in two months," local residents screamed at protesters who passed them in a car. The anger mounted when rumours spread that some protesters were carrying weapons.

"The SCAF will not leave as they claim, they have been creating chaos in the country since last year to extend the transitional period and remain in power," replied a protester.

Protesters claimed only to be using stones to defend themselves, not weapons.

"If we have such weapons, why aren't we using them against the attackers? And why are the deaths only happening on our side," a protester said.


Protesters expressed rage that they were not being supported by Abbasiya residents and blamed the media for turning the people against them.

"We do not expect everyone to support our demands, but we can't be blamed when we are the unarmed ones being killed... Propaganda was used so the people wouldn’t sympathise with us when the SCAF decided to break up the sit-in by force."

A march left the Al-Fateh mosque in Ramses, downtown Cairo, at 5pm, and headed to Abbasiya in order to create a human shield to protect protesters.

A number of other marches were heading to Abbasiya from other areas of Cairo.


Unknown assailants attacked the protesters in Abbasiya in the early hours of Wednesday with cement-based bombs, stones, Molotov cocktails, birdshot guns and teargas canisters, according to eyewitness reports.

Protesters fought the attack with stones, and set up a second field hospital to treat the wounded that included cases of broken limbs and suffocation due to inhaling teargas.

This was the second such attack on the protesters in less than 72 hours. The last attack on Saturday reportedly left one protester dead and tens injured.

There were a number of reported eyes injuries from live gunshots.

Among the dead were Abul-Hassan Ibrahim, a student in Faculty of Medicine at Ain Shams University; Atef El-Gohary, a 41-year-old chef from Sharm El-Sheikh, and people on their way to visit a relative in Dar El-Shifa hospital who were attacked by armed thugs.

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