Last Updated – May 3, 2012
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“Clashes Abbasid” Cairo, Egypt
May 2, 2012
Cairo (CNN) — Egypt’s military may hand over power to a civilian authority in the next three weeks should a presidential vote be decided in the first round, a spokesman for the armed forces chief of staff said Wednesday. “General Sami Anan said today during a meeting with political powers and parties that (the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces) looks forward to handing (over) power within the next three weeks if a president wins in the first phase of elections without runoffs,” Maj. Alaa Al Iraq said. The move, he said, is meant to quash doubts of those who fear a lingering military rule and signal an intention to make good on the coming transition.
Egyptians are expected to head to the polls May 23 in what will be the first presidential election since President Hosni Mubarak’s ouster. It comes amid rising political tensions as officials work to craft a new constitution and Egyptians await the June 2 verdict in Mubarak’s murder trial. Protesters, meanwhile, camped outside the Ministry of Defense for a fourth day to voice their anger about the disqualification of Islamist candidate Hazem Abu Ismael from the election. They also want to disband the presidential election commission. Abu Ismael was disqualified because of evidence that his late mother had U.S. citizenship, an assertion he has denied, prompting his followers to protest the decision by the election commission. About 10 of the 23 presidential contenders have been disqualified, the head of the election committee said this month.
“The people of the Abbasid mourn one of their children’s funeral”
Assailants targeted the protesters in Cairo early Wednesday, killing at least 11, medical sources said. At least 100 people were injured, said Hisham Shiha, the deputy minister of health. It was unclear who the attackers were, but they were not wearing uniforms, witnesses said. U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice said, “we’re very concerned about the outbreak of violence,” adding that the U.S considers it “important for elections to go forward as planned.” Fears of increased violence linger, observers say, as additional protesters marched from downtown to join the other demonstrators. The military dispatched a unit to attempt to restore calm. Protesters hurled rocks at the assailants, who responded with a steady barrage of rocks and Molotov cocktails.
“Down with military rule!” the protesters chanted. Alaa Younis, who took part in the sit-in with some friends, said “dozens of military men dressed in plainclothes started pelting” them “with stones, cement blocks, and fired tear gas from rifles, so they were obviously security officers under cover.” “We fought back with rocks until we noticed they escalated and fired birdshot. Many of us took refuge at one of two field hospitals,” Younis said. A day before the attacks, state TV broadcast videos showing protesters chanting against the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which has ruled Egypt since Mubarak was forced from power last year. Two other presidential candidates announced Wednesday that they were temporarily suspending campaign activities because of the violence.
“Abbasid clashes: the arrival of the army and the Central Security”
May 2, 2012
The dawn raid sparked fierce clashes between the protesters and their unidentified assailants, with both sides fighting each other with sticks, stones and petrol bombs. The incident was the latest in a series of violent episodes in the build up to presidential elections later this month that are meant to represent the culmination of Egypt’s transition to civilian rule more than a year after the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak, the former president. The atmosphere in the country has grown steadily more febrile since Egypt’s electoral commission disqualified three prominent candidates in the presidential race.
Wednesday’s violence took place near the defence ministry in the capital’s Abbasiya district where protesters had camped out to denounce the exclusion of Hazem Abu Ismail, the leading ultraconservative religious candidate who was disqualified because his mother held an American passport. The protesters, most of them Salafist Muslims, said they had been demonstrating peacefully when they were attacked by a mob who opened fire with live ammunition and hurled petrol bombs at them from a nearby bridge. Two of Egypt’s presidential candidates, including the Muslim Brotherhood, said their candidates would suspend their election campaigns for two days to mourn the dead.
Egypt’s health ministry confirmed the deaths of five people, although protesters said that at least eight of their number had died, with as many as 200 others injured. They accused the perpetrators of the attack of being plainclothes soldiers, saying they had found army ration packs among the possessions of some members of the mob that they had managed to overpower. Protesters who have gathered outside the defence ministry in the past have also come under attack, often by people claiming to be local residents tired of demonstrations.
“tens of hundreds of Matsamy defense coming from the mosque opening and Ramesses”
May 2, 2012
CAIRO (Reuters) – Eleven people were killed in Cairo on Wednesday, medics said, when armed men attacked protesters demanding an end to army rule, prompting several candidates to suspend presidential campaigns and heightening doubts on the transition to democracy. Leaders from Islamist and secular camps blamed the trouble on hired “thugs” doing the bidding of entrenched interests behind military rule and warned the generals not to use it as a pretext to delay their departure; the army reaffirmed its stated commitment to handing power to civilians by July. Unidentified men armed with guns and batons attacked demonstrators who included hundreds of ultraconservative Salafi Islamists protesting at their candidate’s exclusion from the ballot for a first-round presidential vote on May 23 and 24.
For hours after the dawn raid, the security forces seemed unable or unwilling to put an end to the violence. As fighting raged near the Defence Ministry in the Abbasiya district of central Cairo, Reuters reporters saw men carrying guns, even a sword, while protesters threw rocks, bottles and petrol bombs. Only in the afternoon did riot police arrive in large numbers to break up the bloody melee and the clashes abated. Democracy campaigners blasted the military rulers of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), which took over 15 months ago as veteran autocrat Hosni Mubarak was brought down by mass street protests during the Arab Spring of uprisings. “SCAF and the government unable to protect civilians or in cahoots with thugs. Egypt going down the drain,” tweeted Mohamed ElBaradei, a Nobel Prize-winning former U.N. official.
Members of the SCAF met representatives of political parties and repeated a pledge to hold elections on time. Politicians who were present said they even offered to return to barracks over a month before the July deadline – in the albeit unlikely event that one of the 13 first-round candidates wins outright in May. A runoff between the top two contenders would be in June. However, the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s biggest Islamist group which dominates a parliament elected in December, refused to join talks with the generals, saying Wednesday’s violence showed the army was trying to “obstruct the handover of power”. The Brotherhood’s presidential candidate Mohamed Mursi suspended campaigning for two days, saying they would be mourning the dead. Several political groups said they would call on followers to mass in central Cairo’s Tahrir Square on Friday.
“I think it will be the practical response to all of what is happening now, be it the blood being spilt or the foot-dragging in the defined date for handing over power,” said senior Brotherhood official Essam el-Erian. The other leading Islamist candidate, Abdel Moneim Abol Fotouh, suspended campaigning indefinitely in protest at the way the authorities had handled the clashes, a spokesman said. Abol Fotouh and former Arab League chief Amr Moussa, the frontrunner among those with past ties to Mubarak, are seen as the most likely candidates to contest a head-to-head runoff. On Twitter, Abol Fotouh said he could not now take part in an unprecedented televised debate with Moussa planned for Thursday “when today our youths are drowning in their blood”. The hosting TV channel also said the event was delayed. Moussa said: “The number of dead and injured foreshadows a disaster and it is unacceptable for security agencies to stand and watch as clashes continue and blood is shed.”
Medical and judicial sources gave a toll of 11 dead and over 160 wounded. The Interior Ministry said seven had died. Ahmed Shahir, 24, a pharmacology student working at a makeshift clinic set up the scene, said men he described as thugs fired shots at an encampment of protesters including supporters of Hazem Salah Abu Ismail, the Salafi cleric barred from the election, and members of pro-democracy youth movements. Local residents joined in the attack on the protesters. Among the protesters were hardcore soccer fans and diehard secular revolutionaries skilled in street combat who dashed back and forth across debris-scattered streets, hurling rocks. Wounded men were hauled away and others filled bottles with gasoline to throw at their opponents. Shots rang out and a Reuters journalist saw at least one attacker wielding a sword. “Where is the army? Why are they not stopping these people?” cried a bystander.
“حرب شوارع فى العباسية Deadly Clashes In Cairo”
May 2, 2012
CAIRO — As least 11 people were killed after assailants attacked protesters staging a sit-in near Egypt’s Ministry of Defense early on Wednesday, setting off hours of clashes that threw the coming presidential election into disarray as at least five candidates announced the suspension of their campaigns to protest the deaths. The victims, killed by gunfire, clubs or knives, included a third-year medical student from Luxor and several young men from the Cairo neighborhood Abbaseya, where the fighting occurred, doctors said. It went for hours with no intervention from the authorities — suggesting to some at least a degree of government complicity — as opposing sides fought a pitched battle hurling stones and incendiary devices, turning a residential neighborhood into a war zone marked by scattered fires. At around 1 p.m., the security services suddenly arrived and the fighting stopped.
“Abbasid clashes .. The dawn of the fifth day”
The confusing, lethal episode has widened a rift between Egypt’s military rulers and protesters who are pushing for a speedy transition to a civilian government, with the protesters convinced that their assailants were in the employ — or at least doing the bidding — of the military. And the event cast a shadow over Egypt’s coming presidential election, shortening an already brief campaign season as it sharpened the differences between candidates. One of the presidential front-runners, Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, a former Muslim Brotherhood leader who has attracted leftists and liberals with his candidacy, suspended his campaign indefinitely, writing on Twitter, “We can’t discuss tomorrow while our youth are drowning in their blood today.” One of his main rivals, Amr Moussa, a former Egyptian minister, announced that he was not suspending his campaign but that he was stopping television advertising temporarily and had “canceled many events.” In a statement, Mr. Moussa criticized the security services for standing “idly by.”
The two men were scheduled to appear in a much-anticipated debate on Thursday night, but that too was delayed because of the violence. Yosri Fouda, a journalist who was to moderate the debate, announced on his Twitter account that it would be postponed until next week. Four other candidates also suspended their campaigns, including Mohamed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate; Khalid Ali, a human rights lawyer; and Hamdeen Sabbahi, an activist and founder of a Nasserist party. In a morning briefing for foreign reporters, Mr. Morsi warned the ruling military council against using the violence as an excuse to delay the elections, reflecting a widespread fear that the council is looking for a pretense to retain power. But his comments also reflected an intensifying power struggle between the Muslim Brotherhood and the military as the presidential vote approaches. “We hold the military council responsible first, because it’s the one running the country,” Mr. Morsi said. “It’s the one with the authority in its hand. We will not allow for the presidential elections to be postponed at all.”
“Matsama gathered in front of the Abbasid mosque at dawn the light May 2″
In statements released through official outlets, the military did not exactly assuage the fears. A member of Parliament, Mustapha Bakri, quoted the army chief of staff, Sami Anan, as telling Mr. Bakri that the military was “considering” handing over power on May 24, if the first round of voting yielded an outright winner. In the statements, the ruling council also promised not to harm protesters as it deployed its troops. The statement did not address why the security services took hours — perhaps as many as 12 — before responding to the violence. The clashes followed days of a simmering standoff near the Ministry of Defense, in what began as a sit-in by supporters of a disqualified presidential candidate, Hazem Salah Abu Ismail, an ultraconservative Islamist known as a Salafi. That sit-in grew into a broader protest against the ruling military council which was joined by revolutionary youth groups. At least one person was killed during the sporadic clashes over the last few days.
No one could say for sure who the assailants were. Many protesters were adamant that their attackers were affiliated with some branch of the security services, though they had little hard evidence. “The thugs were shooting tear gas at us,” said Sherif Mohammed, 26, a member of the April 6 youth movement. “It’s not reasonable that civilians would have tear gas guns.” Several people said the clashes on Wednesday began at about 1 a.m. “We found thugs attacking us suddenly and throwing rocks,” said Mohammed Rifiqi, 21, another April 6 member. He said security officers who had been standing watch at a nearby mosque disappeared. The assailants fired tear gas and live ammunition, according to Mr. Rifiqi. By 11 a.m., a residential intersection had become the front line of a fierce battle, with the protesters throwing rocks gathered by volunteers and hurling incendiary devices with slingshots. Periodically, there was a stampede, as bursts of birdshot came from the other side. Doctors gave death tolls ranging from 11 to 13. Dr. Saleh Mohamed, who worked at a field hospital near the clashes, said he treated five patients who died of gunshot wounds to the head. Several doctors spoke of at least one man whose throat was cut. Of the nearly 200 injuries reported by officials, several people were blinded by birdshot, Dr. Mohammed said.
“One of the martyrs were slaughtered at the dawn of the Abbasid May 2″ (GRAPHIC)
“Chanted the protesters in front of the Ministry of Defence dawn April 30″
April 13, 2011
Egypt’s former president, Hosni Mubarak, has been detained as authorities in the country investigate allegations of corruption and abuse of his authority. His detention comes after the 82-year-old reportedly suffered a heart attack while being questioned on Tuesday night. Mubarak’s two sons, Gamal and Alaa, have also been detained after being questioned over corruption claims into the early hours of Wednesday morning. A statement from the prosecutor general’s office announcing Mubarak’s detention said the ongoing investigation was into allegations of corruption, the squandering of public funds, and the abuse of authority for personal gain.
“The prosecutor general orders the detention of former president Hosni Mubarak and his sons Gamal and Alaa for 15 days pending investigation after the prosecutor general presented them with the current state of its ongoing investigations,” it said. Egypt’s interim government issued subpoenas to Mubarak and his sons over the weekend, compelling them to testify in court over claims that they illicitly acquired wealth and abused their power during the former president’s reign. The announcement of their detention came just hours after Mubarak was hospitalised with heart problems in Sharm el-Sheikh. He has been in internal exile in the Red Sea resort since Egypt’s mass uprising earlier this year.
Mubarak was taken to hospital in Sharm el-Sheikh. However in a sign his health may not be in immediate danger, justice minister Mohammed el-Guindi said questioning of the former president continued in hospital. While the ex-president was in hospital – where he is expected to remain for the period of his detention – his sons were taken for questioning to a Sharm el-Sheikh court by prosecutors from Cairo. Gamal Mubarak, his younger son, was a top official in the ruling party and was widely seen as being groomed to succeed his father before 18 days of popular protests brought down the regime on 11 February. An angry crowd of 2,000 people gathered outside and demanded the two be arrested.