Friday, January 2, 2009

Tens of protesters and journalists arrested

Daily News Egypt
January 1, 2009

By Sarah Carr

CAIRO: Egyptian security forces arrested tens of demonstrators in Downtown Cairo as they protested the Israeli bombing of Gaza on Wednesday.

Demonstrators who had assembled under the “Leftist Alliance” banner at noon in Tahrir Square were violently dispersed by security forces.

They had planned to protest outside the Arab League building, but were prevented from doing so by both central security forces deployed outside the building’s perimeter and plain-clothed police officers who forced bystanders and journalists to leave the area.

Activist Salma Said and Al-Badeel journalist Salma Shukrallah, were forcibly removed from the scene in a police microbus and released nearby almost immediately.

Roughly ten protesters assembled some 50 meters away from the Arab League building. Two of them held up placards.

When one of the protesters began chanting, he was immediately set upon by police officers.

During the ensuing scuffles police officers used force to remove protesters, some of whom were detained.

Said — who had returned to the protest — was arrested for a second time.

She and blogger Malek Mostafa were detained in a police microbus which drove around until the early hours of Thursday morning before being released without charge and left on Cairo’s Autostrad ring road in the Saqr Quraysh area.

Journalists at the scene were manhandled, verbally abused and threatened with arrest if they did not leave the area.

Clashes also broke out between protesters and security forces in the Isaaf area of Downtown Cairo, in the vicinity of the Lawyers’ Syndicate.

Protestors had begun assembling in the area ahead of a protest announced by the Muslim Brotherhood group outside the Lawyers’ Syndicate at 3 pm.

According to journalist Per Bjorklund there were violent clashes between protesters and security forces when police officers began dispersing protesters.

Rasha Azab and Laila Ghareeb from El Fagr newspaper, Radwan Adam from Al-Dostour, Hadir Mahdawy and Hamada El-Kashef from Al-Badeel and Reuters’ Said El-Qersh were some of the journalists detained.

In addition activists and over 70 members of the Muslim Brotherhood were detained.

According to the Hisham Mubarak Law Center all but one of those detained — Ahmed El-Kordy — were subsequently released the same day or in the early hours of the next day.

A Muslim Brotherhood-organized demonstration was held outside the Lawyer’s Syndicate at the same time as these clashes occurred.

According to Bjorklund the protest dispersed peacefully around 4:30 pm.

Wednesday’s events follow a series of demonstrations organized in protest against Israel’s attack on Gaza.

On Monday thousands of protesters took part in a demonstration organized by the Muslim Brotherhood outside the Journalists’ Syndicate.

According to Muslim Brotherhood website Ikhwanweb 45 members were arrested on Tuesday before they reached the Doctors’ Syndicate, where a pro-Gaza demonstration had been planned.

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