No rest to unrest: New and old disputes create explosive mix in Egypt
Since the revolution which toppled the Mubarak regime began in the capital, Cairo, in January 2011, peace has never quite returned to Egypt’s towns and cities. When a military regime filled the space left by Mubarak’s ouster, demonstrators returned to the streets, where they have remained ever since. Hopes that fresh elections would bring calm were dashed when the Port Said football tragedy triggered a new wave of violence, giving fresh impulse to street protests.
The combination of people’s unhappiness with the rule of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, and anger over the events in Port Said have created a volatile mix. Egyptians have been quick to condemn the authorities, blaming the Interior Ministry for failing to provide effective security at the match, and even suggesting it instigated the chaos. They say the government has an interest in maintaining the instability in order to justify its hard-line rule.
Egyptian football fans – also known as the Ultras – were among those who spearheaded the uprising against the Mubarak regime last year. This time, after the Port Said violence, they proceeded to the building of the Interior Ministry in central Cairo demanding justice and an immediate transition from military to civilian rule, as well as snap presidential elections.
The standoff between the protesters and police is still going on. According to RT’s correspondent Maria Finoshina, who is reporting from the scene, numerous rioters are chanting anti-military slogans and many wear facial masks soaked in liquid, in order to protect themselves from the teargas fired by police forces.
“People are just protesting, and they [police] are shooting them. Canisters of tear gas have an unbelievable effect – people might die of that, they suffocate, every day – children, everyone… Today a [seven-year-old] child got hit by a [police] car,” one of the Cairo protesters told RT. “What they are doing to protesters and what they are doing to the country – it’s more than enough, it must be over.”