Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Massive Protest March Against Mubarak in Alexandria

On January 25th - Egyptian Police Day - hundreds of thousands participated in street protests across the country. In Egypt's second largest city, Alexandria an estimated 20,000 are reported to have protested against the Egyptian police and the Mubarak dictatorship - along with poverty, unemployment, corruption, systematic human rights violations, and torture.

One of Alexandria's many protest marches began in the Sidi Bishr neighborhood at 2pm - with around 300 activists chanting and marching through its streets and alleys - a couple of hours later this march grew to around 800 when local residents joined-in.

Around three hours later, this protest march merged into another and thus approximately 2,000 people (including youth, men. women, children, the elderly, Muslims and Christians) began marching beyond Sidi Bishr. Emboldened by their numerical strength, a handful of youth activists began tearing down congratulatory banners for Egyptian Police Day. Then banners with messages supporting Dictator Hosni Mubarak were torn down along with the march. Numerous photos, banners and portraits of the Egyptian dictator, and his son Gamal, were ripped apart or smashed to pieces.

However, the protesters were overwhelmingly non-violent. The majority of these marchers chanted "We want it peaceful! Peaceful!" when anybody hurled rocks at police officers or police stations along the way. In the Mohamed Naguib neighborhood, tens of youth activists hurled rocks at a firetruck which had been deployed along the marchers' route. Without having the opportunity to use its water-cannons, the firetruck quickly backed-up and sped-off, away from the protesters and out of the neighborhood.

The police forces/pigs were unusually restrained during the course of this March. That is until approximately 7:45pm (at which time the march had grown to include some 5,000 Alexandrians) when the marchers arrived at the Sidi Gaber neighborhood. Armored vehicles deployed in Sidi Gaber rapidly began firing teargas canisters amongst the protesters.

Protesters responded by hurling rocks at the riot police forces and their officers. Slogans and chants immediately turned in curses directed against the police, Minister of Interior Habib "el-Butcher" Adly, and Dictator Mubarak. Plain-clothed police began arresting protesters, while riot police hurled rocks back and fired more teargas canisters. Dozens of protesters were injured and many more suffered from teargas inhalation.

The police managed to turn an overwhelmingly non-violent march into a series of running street battles. A police pick-up truck parked nearby was smashed and flipped over on its side. Angry youth then used it as a barricade, from behind which they hurled rocks at the police. These street battles raged-on for nearly an hour.

Other peaceful protest stands and marches were similarly crushed. The police began with the aggression on this day. Yet Egyptian protesters have proven willing and able to resist these aggressors. Egyptians have apparently discovered that the best way to celebrate Egyptian Police Day is to confront these brutal oppressors and torturers.

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