On Sunday morning, Tahrir Square protesters gathered around the Mogamma, the largest governmental administrative building in Egypt, chanting anti-SCAF slogans. The protesters have completely blocked off the building’s colossal main entrance which faces the square. By 9:00am, government employs stood aside, watching in curiosity as some mouthed along, repeating the chants with the demonstrators.
The crowd, at first numbering no more than 30, began their occupation of the building’s entrance at around 7:00am. Many protesters were still asleep and many others awake in the roundabout’s central island were unsure of the gathering’s purpose.
Those assembled in front of the Mogamma did not claim to be members of any party or movement, insisting they were Egyptians tired of the ruling elite’s old tricks. Nothing had changed, they maintained, after 11 February, the day ousted president Hosni Mubarak stepped down; police brutality hasn’t subsided, they said, pointing to the events of 28 June when clashes erupted between Central Security Forces and protesters supporting the families of the martyrs. Following these events, human rights organisations accused the interior ministry of excessive use of force.
One by one, Egyptians and foreigners alike with business in the Mogama, documents in hand, were turned away by protesters, some of whom were wearing badges identifying them as “square security” – members of popular committees in charge of securing checkpoints. Arguments broke out as some members of the public insisted on getting into the building to finish their paper work; in some cases, they had come from remote corners of Cairo. The arguments subsided as men and women escorted the the disgruntled citizens away.
As more people came to the Mogama gates seeking entry, onlookers and participants cheekily smiled, informing them that the Mogamma was closed to all. The crowd had grown and the chanting had fervently begun focusing on the martyrs (“I can hear the mother of the martyr calling: I want my right and the rights of my children”) and the interim government (“farce, farce, farce, the gang is still ruling”). Soon some of the government employees joined the protesters and they too chided the ruling military council, demanding a civilian state.