"Definitely The Mood Has Changed"


by Chris Bodenner

Speaking on the phone to FP's Joshua Keating, correspondent Maryam Ishani gave one of the more vivid accounts of Wednesday's bloodshed:

Now, I'm basically stuck between what they've established as two cordons around Tahrir. One is established by pro-Mubarak demonstrators, whose job it is to keep people out of the square. That includes ambulances and anyone who's not on their side. They ask you if you're pro- or against. They're looking for Americans and foreigners. They're saying things like, "You brought Baradei. This is your fault. You're trying to break Egypt." They're quite hostile. They physically hit me with sticks. I went in to film them throwing stones and they knocked me back pretty hard, which is not the mood of the demonstrators inside the square.

The second cordon is also pro-Mubarak demonstrators, who are just beating up the demonstrators inside Tahrir. They have swords -- I'm not exaggerating -- they have things that look like machetes with a 12-inch blade or longer, sticks, pipes, automatic weapons.

This is why people [are] saying they're actually police. They're in very large numbers, not just people who collected. They're generally all men between the ages of 20 or 30. Among them are some pretty thuggish types. I walked down a street into a crowd of about 10 of them and I was so uncomfortable with the look on their face that I just turned right around. It literally looks like their job is to just beat people up. They're working their way into Tahrir an inch at a time with the cordon behind them keeping everyone out, specifically the press. They're confiscating cameras. They'll take things away and break them. They're throwing stones. They mean business in a way that hasn't been the case so far.

Ishani adds:

[T]hose on the pro-Mubarak side are chanting Islamic slogans. Throughout the day, we've been hearing that Friday is supposed to be what everyone is calling a "day of jihad" that both sides are gearing up for. Both sides are gearing up for a street fight on Friday. Definitely the mood has changed.

(Photo: Egyptian anti-government protestors (L and R) beat and lead away a supporter of embattled President Hosni Mubarak during clashes in Cairo's Tahrir square on February 02, 2011. By Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty Images)