Reports are surfacing of brutalities against journalists and sexual violence against women during the ongoing clashes in Tahrir Square in Cairo. Via Twitter, US-based Egyptian journalist Mona Eltahawy described the sexual and physical assault on her at the interior ministry after she was arrested on Wednesday. She was released Thursday morning with both arms broken.
Egypt’s interim military government, the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF), has announced that parliamentary elections will still occur next Monday, November 28, though activists and some political parties have called for postponing them. Since Saturday, protesters have clashed with riot police and security forces in Tahrir Square, the epicenter of the Egyptian uprising, and also in other Egyptian cities including the port city of Alexandria. The SCAF apologized for the deaths of some 38 demonstrators but still seemed to justify the killings, saying that they were criminals attacking the Interior Ministry, and also denied that security forces had fired live ammunition or birdshot at protesters. Video testimony suggests otherwise; over 3,000 have been injured, some seriously.
On Thursday, the SCAF announced that it had appointed 78-year-old Kamal al-Ganzouri, who was prime minister from 1996 to 1999 under Hosni Mubarak, to form a new cabinet. The SCAF had approved the resignation of caretaker prime minister Essam Sharaf’s cabinet in accordance with the demands of protesters. After the uprising earlier this year, Ganzouri seemed to distance himself from Mubarak in a television interview, leading to suggestions that he might be a presidential candidate. However, many have mocked Ganzouri as a “dinosaur” while others note that the choice of him has provoked the Muslim Brotherhood. While Ganzouri was prime minister, many Islamists were incarcerated or tortured.
The military have started to erect a two-meter tall concrete barrier on Mohamed Mahmoud Street, which has been the site of many clashes between protesters and security forces and which leads to the interior ministry. But protesters remain as determined as ever to remain in Tahrir Square until the SCAF and its leader, Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, step down. Protesters have called for another “million man march” on Friday and those in the square chanted “Oh, Field Marshal, Oh, Field Marshal, legitimacy comes from Tahrir.”
Three US students who were detained and accused of throwing Molotov cocktails during the clashes earlier this week have been released. Egyptian authorities have decided not to press charges against them, thus avoiding a potentially “thorny diplomatic problem between Egypt and the US.” The announcement is a sudden turnaround as, shortly before, Egyptian authorities had said they would keep the students for four more days for questioning. Greg Porter, Louis Gates and Derrik Sweeney were all studying at American University in Cairo. After being taken to a local doctor for a medical examination, they will be taken to a police station and then set free and allowed to return to their dorms.
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Photo of Tahrir Square on November 22, 2011 by lilianwagdy