Egypt Erupting: A Momentary Lull

CAIRO PROTESTS 17

by Chris Bodenner

Scott Lucas takes stock of the past two days:

For those trying to follow events in Egypt, Wednesday was a chaotic experience. Unlike the close of Tuesday, when there was a single, dramatic episode to concentrate the signs of Government and opposition --- the gathering in Tahrir (Liberation) Square in Cairo --- yesterday forced the observer to try and gather information on a series of running battles.

Difficulties were compounded by the restrictions on communications by Egyptian authorities, who blocked Twitter and may have interfered with Facebook as well as disrupting cell phones in an effort to snap links between protesters. And of course the Government put security forces --- thousands of them --- on the streets of the cities.

Yet, for all the uncertainty and confusion of the day, what emerged last night was that the Government had not broken the back of the January 25 movement.

While demonstrators in Cairo could not offer the image of a mass rally, as they had 24 hours earlier, the smaller gatherings --- from the Press and Lawyers' Syndicates to the Corniche to Ramses Street --- demonstrated that the Ministry of Interior's threat to arrest anyone who assembled publicly had not been entirely effective.

The authorities were able to stamp out demonstrations in other cities before they could take hold. But in Suez, the situation appears to have been all-out conflict. By afternoon, the report was that 350 had been injured since the start of protests. While only three people had been killed --- a remarkably low figure, given the reports of the intensity of the battle --- by last night there were armoured vehicles on the streets.

This morning has started quietly in comparison. An observer reports "not a single policeman" is in Tahrir Square in Cairo. News from Suez is sparse. Yet this is probably an expected lull. For demonstrators are already pointing to Friday, the day of prayer, as the time for a mass display of resistance.

(Photo caption: "1000 Protesters at the Lawyers Syndicate in Cairo".  More here.)

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