Police vanity only sated by death and injury
Another repeat of of the events of June 28 and like June 28 the fighting continues throughout the night into the next day. Again the injuries are in the hundreds and and will likely top a thousand with at least 5 deaths in Cairo, Alexandria and Suez. Why? Because police forces wanted to flex their muscles in response to what they felt was the overt display of Muslim Brotherhood power in Tahrir November 18. The very next day, with only a few people left in the square, police forces descended en masse and with a great show of force to break up whatever was left in the square, in scenes reminiscent of the military forcibly ending the Tahrir Square sit-in on August 1.
We all knew what would come next, nothing makes people descend on Tahrir in large numbers like police bullying, it is after all the initial reason why people took to the streets on January 25. This time it was a different matter. The government and the Muslim Brotherhood are at loggerheads over the constitutional principles document of Ali El-Selmy. The Brotherhood are not interested in the articles that allow the military to be an untouchable state within a state, but rather with the article that delineates the formation of the committee that will draft the country’s next constitution. El-Selmy’s document stipulates that only 20 members of the committee will be taken from the parliament, a number the Brotherhood are not happy with since they ‘re expecting significant gains in the elections this month.
And so this is a tiff between two political forces, an extension of the negotiating process, with protesters in the middle. There’s a lot of anger at the Brotherhood from people in the square, because they simply aren’t there. Salafis showed up eventually well into the night. The fighting continues. The Interior Ministry have released statements – written and verbally by its commanders – that not one rubber bullet or birdshot was fired by their forces. Seems we’re all living in some sort of collective dream, because I personally witnessed the police soldiers on top of the APCs aiming and firing directly at the protesters. The ball bearings from the birdshot cartridges hit a lot of people, even those standing more than 50 meters away. And the inordinate amount of tear gas is naturally perfectly fine of course, as the police practiced the utmost “self-restraint” when breaking up what was really a bunch of people standing about in the square.
The injuries are manifold, some people have lost the sight in their eyes. Ahmed Hararah, who I saw yesterday sporting an eye-patch because he lost the sight in one of his eyes on January 28, has now lost the sight in the other one. And yet the obfuscation in the state media and the disingenuous comments of the Interior Ministry (and armed forces) that are being parroted are again going to muddy the narrative of events, confuse public opinion even further and the regular depiction of those in Tahrir as thugs and troublemakers will continue. Which means that no one will be held accountable again for all the endangering of lives for reasons of vanity and politicking. And as always, it is those who were there who will know what happened and how, and not that many will believe them.
But this is not a worthless fight nor is it merely an expanded street brawl. Essentially this battle continues to rage because the Interior Ministry hasn’t changed one bit since having its ass handed to it circa January 25 and 28. It’s the same old attitude, the same old haughty arrogance and the same old inability to be anything but thuggish in its constitution. This is a battle against stagnation, and against the insistence of the military and the cabinet to revert back to type, with mentalities incapable of adjusting to what should have been a new Egypt. The battle continues.