Second guessing the army

A solely military checkpoint was set up on the Western side of Qasr el Nile bridge on Friday. On Saturday, this checkpoint became considerably more hostile, with aggrssive soldiers attempting to confiscate my camera and succeeding in confiscating my lighter. I was told I could claim it back at the end of the day. I didn’t try to exercise that right. Then the primary checkpoint, at the entrance to Tahrir, was a disorganized nightmare. Queues for the men and women were combined, barbed wire was erected, the crowd was kept waiting, growing frustrated. Foreigners living in Cairo were not allowed in. Swaggering officers now checked IDs, a job previously performed by civilians.

Again, today, entrance to Tahrir was challenging. Taking between twenty and forty minutes for the peak of the day (between 12 and 6). Again, the Army, with riot helmets on and guns round their necks, were administering the entrance.

This evening the army tried to move its post forward at the entrance to Midan Tahrir by the Egyptian museum. The young protestors on the square sat in front of the tanks to prevent the move in to the square and fighting broke out between the army and the young people. The army started firing but the young people would not retreat. The army grabbed three of the young people and took them in to a detention centre in the Egyptian Museum. At the moment there is a face off between the army and the young protesters at the museum entrance to the square. The protestors are chanting: ‘give us back our brothers’.

These are not the first people to be arrested by the Military Police. For all their claims of neutrality, the army has been busy arresting citizens and foreigners and confiscating equipment – my battery and memory card are among them.

Either they are replacing the neighbourhood watches, who people increasingly feel to be overzealous, they are preparing for a momentous event, or they are slowly tightening their control over all of Cairo.

source: Second guessing the army |