Eihab Boraie hits the street to cover the violent cat and mouse game between protestors and security forces at the University of Cairo this afternoon and discovers chaos...
I can think about 529 reasons why people are in the streets protesting right now. After the ridiculously illegal verdict heard all around the world, the Brotherhood called for mass protests, and as promised many people took to various locations to express their anger. I can't tell you what was happening all over Cairo, but when I heard that demonstrations were taking place at Cairo University, I grabbed my camera and took to the streets to find out.
I arrived to foggy tear gas ridden scene at around 3pm, the back and forth attacks were well on there way. I wouldn't call it a peaceful protest, as I saw with my own eyes protesters throwing a couple of Molotov cocktails, sling-shooting marbles, and using the weapon of choice; fireworks. Meanwhile security forces were using massive amounts of tear gas and what I was hoping was rubber bullets instead of real bullets. There could have been other things used, but I can only comment on what I saw.
I can't say for any certainty that everyone protesting was a Brotherhood supporter, or even a student for that matter. I saw kids who looked like they might be just entering high school throwing rocks at each other. I did see some Rabaa shirts which makes it easier to know what side they are on, but what surprised me most is the amount of civilians who were marching alongside the police, cheering them on. I heard things like “kill them all,” and the crowd erupted in a cheer at one point when one of the security forces thought he had managed to hit someone with a weapon which was definitely not a tear gas gun. I didn't have the expertise to know what kind of gun it was or what kind of bullets he was using.
The cat and mouse game continued for a while and is likely still on going, The protesters would storm out of the university firing their fireworks and throwing their rocks and bottles, which elicited a response of dozens tear gas canister, forcing them to retreat. The only thing that was frequently passing through the gates were ambulances. I know there are many injuries, and with the amount of violence it is highly likely there will be some casualties.
Personally, I am at a loss for words. I am angry with what is happening with the country and have no confidence in Sisi to be President. What I am seeing doesn't look like progress to me, and with the sentencing 529 supporters to death in a speedy trial, I have no confidence that order is being restored. In fact, I argue that things will only get worse, especially if these are the verdicts we are going to get used to hearing. I wish Egypt would take back Tahrir behind a trustworthy leader prepared with proper demands like ending military trials for civilian and freeing imprisoned journalists. Obviously, there is a lot more change needed, but I figure this is a good start with clear objectives.
The likelihood that a unifying leader will emerge to guide a peaceful protest is slim to none, but unfortunately there is likely no solution without said leader. I am by no means a Brotherhood supporter, and I would never want them to ever return to power, but giving out mass death sentences is unacceptable, and is essentially state run genocide. I have no problems with security forces dispersing violent protests with tear gas, but make no mistake: the protesters at the University were not sitting there peacefully, and when they take a square to sit in peacefully I will be right there with them, because the state needs to know that I am not a Brotherhood supporter, but I am also not a supporter of what the military is doing and will equally stand against both, until some semblance of law and order returns to this country.
Photos by: Eihab Boraie