Today, in a new development, the central square in Cairo exploded in violence as the two sides of Egypt’s turmoil came face to face. Carrying weapons like knives, razors, and sticks, pro-government groups riding camels and horses infiltrated the protesters and began attacking them. In return, some were dragged from their horses and physically beaten by the protesters.
A 52-year-old anti-government protester named Emad Nafa said, “These are paid thugs. The army is neglectful, they let them in.”
It occurred after a long stand-off in which the military managed to keep a small divide separating the opposing groups. During the standoff, rocks and firebombs were hurled through the air by both sides.
Yesterday, President Mubarak claimed he would remain as leader until September and not seek re-election. Anti-government protesters on CNN said that this was not enough. NPR reported that President Obama spoke with Mubarak by phone shortly after, and echoed the same sentiment: that he should end his reign now and not in September.
With nightfall came Molotov cocktails, but now Al-Jazeera’s live streaming online broadcast shows a decrease in the violence. Protesters, again, remained out in the square despite a curfew. Tear gas was reported being smelled, according to NPR. It was not clear who was responsible for its dispersal.
The clash came after the biggest protest in Egypt’s history yesterday, when about a quarter million protesters gathered in Cairo’s Tahrir Square.
Al-Jazeera reported that the Egyptian military largely stood by and watched as the melee unfolded.
As protesters yelled for soldiers to help them, the troops merely said they were not ordered to do so and told protesters to go home, according to NPR.
Watching the violence on CNN as it unfolded was a strange sensation; we are indeed in an age where such historic, outrageous, sickening moments in time can be blatantly broadcast for the whole world to see…but there was no way to be numb while watching such violence occur.
UPDATE: The Al-Jazeera live stream has just reported that there was at least one death from the clashes today…I’m sure there will be more.