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Life back to normal in Tahrir following Friday’s protest

After police created a tense environment, vying for control over Tahrir Square's central garden, things wind down after protesters leave

Ahram Online, Saturday 13 Aug 2011
Photo: Mai Shaheen

Calm has been restored in Tahrir Square, Egypt’s prime venue for protests since the beginning of 2011, after last night’s demonstrators left. ‎

About 5000 participated in the For the Love of Egypt iftar (the meal that breaks the ‎Ramadan daily fast), initially called for by several Sufi Orders and adopted by several ‎political groups, including the 6th of April movement. The demonstrations and chants were mainly against the military rule ‎and for a civil state.‎

Most of the protesters left by midnight after troublemakers tried to stir up chaos with ‎military and police forces, which were heavily deployed in the central island of the ‎square.‎

The few tens of protesters that remained in Tahrir dismantled the only podium that was set up on that ‎day after having sohour (the meal before sunrise during Ramadan). Later on, some of them left while others opted to pray as dawn crept in. ‎

By sunrise, traffic returned to normal after protesters left and security personnel’s ‎presence became less intensive.‎

This was the first demonstration to take place in Tahrir Square since the military forcefully ‎ended the three week-long sit-in that started on 8 July. ‎

Hundreds attempted to have an iftar in the square days earlier but were attacked and ‎chased away by military police. ‎

To counter that, several political movements and Sufis went into negotiations with the prime ‎minister to ensure that the For the Love of Egypt iftar would be allowed.

Even after a permit was granted police and military officers presence was intense and often provocative. They formed a circle around the initial protesters and tried to keep new protesters from adding themselves to the inner circle. In effect, however, as more protesters came, the police themselves were surrounded.

Security’s obsession with occupying the central garden of the square provided the social networks with a lot of material: "The square was red line for protesters during Mubarak's regime, now the circle inside the square has become #SCAF's new red line !," tweeted @Nadiaglory.

@NoorNoor1 says "Sadly, #SCAF has converted #Tahrir Square from a means to an ends."

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