Protesters in Egypt's Tahrir Square shift their tents following attack by 'vendors'

Sherif Tarek , Monday 4 Jul 2011

Protesters in Tahrir Square maintained their sit-in on Monday but moved their tents a few ‎metres in the wake of a fierce brawl that erupted Sunday evening following an unprovoked attack by persons posing as street vendors

Tahrir square as tents went on fire photo by: Mai Shaheen)

Protesters in Tahrir Square maintained their sit-in on Monday - which started Tuesday 28 June - but moved their tents a few ‎metres away in the wake of the brawl that erupted yesterday, which saw many of their tents set on fire.‎
The demonstrators reset their camp on a smaller grassy area in front of the governmental administrative complex, known as Mogamma, considering only a handful of tents remained in the larger, central part of the square.‎

The whole area was quiet and peaceful this morning. ‎

Peddlers reportedly assaulted some of the protesters Sunday at dusk as both sides stoned ‎each other in a chaotic scene.‎

Umm Ibrahim, a woman street vendor told OnTV, however, that the attackers were not peddlers at all, but people posing as such. According to her story, she is one of the original street vendors of Tahrir Square, who have been operating their small stands serving tea and a host of other merchandise. Speaking to OnTV's presenter Reem Maged by telephone, Umm Ibrahim asserted that the "real" street vendors were for the revolution and had nothing to do with the attack. Rather, it was the newcomers, who she said, did not look like street vendors at all, who suddenly started attacking the protesters as they were trying to move the camp, wielding knives, metal rods, stones and Molotov cocktails. The also threw and exploded butane gas drums, she said.

Umm Ibrahim opined that these had been "paid agents" sent by certain parties to undermine the revolution.

No police or army forces were deployed in the square and none have intervened to ‎contain the situation. Order was relatively restored after a while.‎

Around 200 people, including women, were reportedly injured in the free-for-all as the ‎perpetrators used bladed weapons. ‎

The casualties were treated in a makeshift field clinic and some of them were later ‎hospitalised. At least two were in critical condition, according to volunteer doctors.‎

Apart from burning tents, some of the culprits set ablaze a small-sized butane gas ‎cylinder in the middle of the square, but it did not explode.‎

Demonstrators eventually caught a few of the street vendors responsible for the violence before they were handed over to army ‎forces.‎

It was said the altercation took place after protesters decided to change the location of ‎their tents, which, for some, reason angered the peddlers.‎

The fray prompted a traffic problem in downtown yesterday. Roads were completely ‎blocked before vehicles made their way through the scattered crowd.‎

A host of Utlras Ahlawy members (one of Egypt's two major football teams) were reported to have gone to Tahrir Square shortly ‎after their game with Smouha in the Egyptian Premier League, presumably to support ‎the protesters.‎

Once the row was over, people chanted slogans calling for the unification of Egyptians. ‎‎“Wake up Egyptians!” repeatedly resounded in the area.‎

The Tahrir Square sit-in started Tuesday following altercations in front of the ministry of ‎interior as well as at the Balloon Theatre in Agouza, reportedly between martyrs’ ‎families and police forces.‎

The next morning was followed by more bloody confrontations between thousands of ‎protesters and central security personnel, who bombarded the demonstrators with tear ‎gas for hours.‎

Some of the angry demonstrators attacked the ministry of interior’s headquarters that ‎day, which saw over 1000 injured in the large-scale scuffle.‎

The following three days were calm to some extent before mayhem once again broke ‎out Sunday at dusk.‎

A number of political forces are planning a million-man march on Friday in Tahrir ‎Square, the epicentre of Egypt’s January 25 Revolution.‎


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