As protests heat up in Egypt, the situation there remains extremely tense and unpredictable. Of course demonstrations are nothing new for the country. However, there is something very unique about this particular situation.
First there is the wave of excitement that has been carried over from the revolution in Tunisia. Buoyed by the excitement and tiered of living under a very similar dictatorship, clashes began in Cairo four days prior. The government most likely expected things to dissipate quickly and did not really prepare for the level of unrest that we are seeing today. Certainly though, they had a glimmer as just last evening as Egypt’s connection to the world through the internet was shut down. That shows a level of desperation by the government in a move that comes too late to stop organized protest. However to quote a tweet by Mark Gonzales: “it was not to silence the tweets but silence the screams”. As it currently remains, communication inside of Egypt remains offline.
Friday is the holy day in Islamic countries and after prayers, scheduled protests seemed to be going quite peacefully. Eyewitness reports stated that there were thousands of people flooding the streets, but still letting traffic through and not turning over vehicles, lighting fires or destroying property. Although it seems in just hours after the fresh wave of protests began violence broke out. Reports will, of course, vary but there seems to be a consensus that the violence was instigated by the police forces who were given carte blanche by the government to use heavy handed force.
There are reports of fatalities throughout Egypt and tanks on the streets of Cairo. Of course, the army coming into the picture creates a very unique situation for the country. In Tunisia, the army actually sided with the people and in a sense, saved the Tunisians from the police. This may or may not be the case within Egypt. According to Egyptian state media the Egyptian armed forces have been added onto the streets of Cairo to help enforce the current curfew that has now passed and is not being observed by protesters. This of course means that the police were not able to actually control the hundreds who have taken to the streets.
There were also reports of security forces swarming the building that Al Jazeera and many other major news networks report from. At the last report the announcer from Al Jazeera was being very measured in his words. Using the term, “I have to be careful, but what I can say is”¦” and they were forced to move their cameras from the balconies to inside the building with their signal being cut off intermittently. This gives the impression that there is now a level threat on the freedom of access the media has. Whether it comes to any sort of head remains to be seen. Although if live feeds are stopped, what we will see is an almost total media blackout in Egypt. No information able to get in or out.
Currently plumes of smoke and troop vehicles being lit on fire and turned over have been spotted on the 6th of October Bridge within Cairo. As protests continue throughout Egypt there is no doubt that fatalities, violence and discontent will continue to escalate. What comes of these nighttime protests will be seen in the morning. But there is no doubt that both the regime and the people of Egypt are in an extremely precarious situation.