Rights groups in Egypt file suit to reopen military-blocked downtown streets

Ahram Online, Sunday 15 Jan 2012

Case filed against military and officials for blocking downtown roads in attempt to reveal double standards by authorities who blame sit-ins for Egypt's failing economy

Mohamed Mahmoud
Men walk past barricades placed by the Egyptian military at Mohamed Mahmoud street which leads to the Interior Ministry, where clashes between protesters and security force took place in late November, near Tahrir Square in Cairo December 5, 2011. (Photo: Reuters)

A lawsuit demanding the reopening of downtown streets blocked by concrete walls built after recent clashes has been filed by The Egyptian Centre for Economic and Social Rights and the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights in the State Council Administrative Court.

The case has been filed against the head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, the Prime Minister, the Interior Minister, the Cairo Governor and the Minister of Local Development for refusing to open the streets of Qasr El-Aini and Mohamed Mahmoud for pedestrians and cars.

The case was filed at the request of journalist Khaled El-Balshy, editor-in-chief of Tahrir newspaper, who lives near Mohamed Mahmoud Street and works near Qasr El-Aini Street. El-Balshy said that the case comes as a response to those who have blamed the sit-ins and demonstrations for the failing economy and left main and lively roads blocked for weeks.

The complaint stated that the roadblocks have led to traffic congestion and forced cars to drive in directions against traffic laws or through small roads that are not made to receive such a high traffic load. These congestions affect the economy, according to the complaint.

Following the clashes between police and protesters on 19 November, the military built a concrete wall to block Mohamed Mahmoud Street, which leads to the Ministry of Interior. Following the clashes on 16 December between military and protesters, the military also blocked  Kasr El-Ainy Street, which leads to the Cabinet.

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