Tahrir Square death toll up to 35, anti-military protests continue

Demonstrations at Tahrir Square continue for the third consecutive day, killed at least 35 people, even as thousands of demonstrators were fired at by security forces in Cairo's Tahrir Square.

FP Staff November 21, 2011 21:34:36 IST
Tahrir Square death toll up to 35, anti-military protests continue

Demonstrations at Tahrir Square continue for the third consecutive day even as thousands of demonstrators were fired at by security forces in Cairo's Tahrir Square. The violence has killed at least 35 people in 3 days, an Egypt morgue official told the Associated Press.

The Tahrir Square, which was the epicenter of the protest movement that ousted President Hosni Mubarak in February, saw protestors and police clashing with each other. As the demonstrators hurling stones and firebombs, the cops hit back with tear gas and rubber bullets even as they clashed with several thousand protesters in an attempt to disperse the crowd gathered.

Cairo's main morgue at Zainhum hospital had received 33 corpses from those killed in clashes between protesters and security forces, medical sources told Reuters on Monday.

The protests are to challenge the rule of Egypt's military, with the demonstrators demanding that the transition from military rule to civilian rule take place faster.

Tahrir Square death toll up to 35 antimilitary protests continue

Egyptian riot policeman try to disperse protesters from Cairo's landmark Tahrir Square on Sunday. AFP

The eruption of violence which began Friday saw demonstrators handing out flyers demanding the withdrawal of the constitutional proposal, and saying that presidential elections be held no later than April 2012. Although initially started by Islamists after Friday prayers, the latest reports say that they are now driven by the same youthful activists who galvanized Egyptians to bring down Mubarak, putting national pride before religion.

The unrest comes barely a week before Egyptians elect a new parliament in a staggered vote that starts on 28 November, reflecting the frustration of its people with the army. Even after the assembly is picked, the presidential powers will remain with the army until a presidential poll takes place — something which may not happen until late 2012 or early 2013. The political leadership of the country has been Egypt's mired in confusion since a revolution ousted Hosni Mubarak from power and the country's military stepped in.

The protesters are seeking an immediate shift to civilian rule.

Referring to the head of the Supreme Council, Field Marshall Hussein Tantawi, a young protester at the Square, Mohammed Sayyed, told the AP, "What does it mean, transfer power in 2013? It means simply that he wants to hold on to his seat. I will keep coming back until they kill me."

"The people are frustrated. Nothing changed for the better," he told the AP.

In an interview with Al Jazeera, Hossam al Hamalawy, an Egyptian journalist and protester, said that the demonstrators were taking their movement against the military well beyond Tahrir Square and into workplaces and regions across the country in a bid to end the military’s political involvement.

"They are engineering the election in a way so as to safeguard their own privileges, that’s why they have to go. It is still the first revolution … we are just trying to finish the job," he told Al Jazeera.

The Associated Press also reported that protesters, including thousands of students in the coastal city of Alexandria, marched to other cities calling for those responsible for the violence in Cairo to be punished.

Even as the death toll in the protests mounted, Al Jazeera correspondent Sherine Tadros reported that more than 1,500 people were injured in the demonstrations over the weekend. She also cited instances of people chanting against the regime, saying "The people want the overthrow of the regime" — incidentally, the same chant one could hear during the revolution against Mubarak earlier this year.

On Monday, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle called on Egypt's rulers to listen to the protesters and called on all sides to refrain from violence.

"Those in charge in Egypt would be well advised to take people's political demands and justified concerns seriously and act fast to create the right environment for the upcoming elections," the AP reported Westerwelle as having said.

Updated Date: