Egyptian security forces braced for protests on Monday, planned to mark the second anniversary of the fall of former President Hosni Mubarak.
GlobalPost Senior Correspondent in Cairo Erin Cunningham said Egypt’s interior ministry had increased security around government buildings and transport infrastructure. But some protesters, now focused on demonstrating against Egypt’s new president, Mohamed Morsi, have already blocked bridges and metro lines in the capital.
“At least half a dozen marches are expected to converge on Tahrir Square and the presidential palace in an upscale Cairo suburb later this evening,” Cunningham said. “The protests are likely to turn violent as demonstrators revert to more combative tactics and police respond with often-excessive force.”
CAIRO, Egypt — It starts off with a single grope, an unfamiliar hand reaching for a buttock, or maybe a breast.
But before there is time to react, the one hand turns into many, grabbing, tearing, stripping, biting — raping.
This is Cairo’s famed Tahrir Square. Once the epicenter of Egypt’s peaceful uprising, where activists plotted an idealistic future, the immense plaza in downtown Cairo is now also something much darker — a hub for mass sexual assaults against female protesters and journalists.
Follow the link for an On Location VIDEO report from Bridgette Auger
On Jan. 25, “we were attacked non-stop for two hours,” said Hussein Al Shafie, one of the initiative’s Tahrir Square volunteers. His rescue team had saved a woman from a mob assault, taking her to safety inside their makeshift headquarters at Tahrir.
“They came to our headquarters in the square to attack us. They lit a fire outside the door so we couldn’t leave,” he said. “They looked drugged, and they were saying: ‘What are those girls doing here? We want the girls.’ The more we organize, the more they organize.”
TANTA, Egypt — In gray and crumbling downtown Tanta, the air still burned from the tear gas fired by police forces the night before.
One of Tanta’s own had been killed — tortured by police, his family and friends say. This mid-sized Nile Delta city, 58 miles north of Cairo, had exploded Monday night into its most violent anti-government protest in years.
“The people are tired of being deceived, of having their friends and family killed,” said 24-year-old resident, Mohamed Imam. “Things will not calm down. We will continue to fight.”
GlobalPost Senior Correspondent Erin Cunningham said Egypt witnessed overnight Monday widespread defiance of Morsi’s curfew, indicating further erosion of his already shaky authority.
“Whether or not the state is near collapse is unclear, though the potential for continued unrest remains high and the moral jurisdiction of the state in certain areas is still under attack,” Cunningham said from Cairo.
GlobalPost correspondent Erin Cunningham hit the streets of Cairo to mark the second anniversary of the Egyptian uprising.
The protesters are chanting, “The revolution came back for change. In the name of your bloody, martyr, it’s a new revolution. They said legitimacy and they said sharia. And they killed our brothers at Ittihadiya [Ittihadiya is the presidential palace]. Down, down with the [Muslim Brotherhood] supreme guide’s dream. Secular, secular!”
From Cairo, GlobalPost’s Erin Cunningham said the protests have remained relatively calm. “No major developments around the protests tonight so far. They’re happening, and they’re big. But no clashes,” she wrote on Tuesday night.
She added: “Protestors did tear down at least part of the concrete wall the presidential Republican Guard built several days ago in defense of the palace. They broke through the security cordon this evening (as they’ve done several times), but they did not storm the palace.”
Protests in Egypt turned violent on Wednesday. GlobalPost’s Erin Cunningham reported from Egypt:
“What’s taking place now is surprising for a number of reasons. One, the clashes are taking place outside the presidential palace. Before yesterday, the palace had never been a focal point for protests — but now it’s basically the frontline. People are taking their grievances literally to the doorstep of the president.”
“Second, it’s the most intense violence that has taken place between pro-Morsi and Brotherhood or Islamist supporters and those who oppose Brotherhood rule, whether they are secular, liberal, etc. The violence is driving Egypt along dangerous lines that may be hard to turn away from.”