Friday, January 28, 2011

Cairo Protests - Friday 8 PM

Friday 8 PM: As expected, massive protests spread throughout the streets in Cairo after the Friday prayers. Tens of thousands of people marched the streets chanting things like alshaab youred esgat alnezam! which means ”the population wants the system down.” All strategic spots in the city was barricaded by riot police and plaincloth police circled among the protesters. Journalists have been targeted and I've heard several stories of cameras being taken and journalists being beaten bad. The police have been using extreme violence throughout the day; shooting hundereds of canister cans with tear gas towards the masses, firing rubber bullets and water cannons. The air have been filled with gas, burning the eyes and noses. Protective face masks have been distributed among the protesters and the gas haven't stopped people from shouting out their rage.

Large groups of demonstrators have been trying to unite, but it's been difficult to get past the barricades. I've seen gas canisters flying through the air, landing in the middle of the crowds. People are using masks or scarfs to protect their faces and share advices of how to best cope with the tear gas. Cars and tired have been set afire. Amateur fire bombs have been thrown towards the police and stories of extreme police violence have been circulating all day.

Late in the afternoon a curfew was implemented, frpm 6 PM to 7 AM tomorrow morning, but few protesters have obeyed the curfew and the government's prohibition of demonstrations. Tens of thousands of people are still advancing through the city. We've been completely cut off from the rest of the world as internet and mobile nets are shut down. A while ago the military moved in to the city, which have been met with respect as they are considered to not be a part of the violent police forces. Recently military helicopter started to circulate above the city and I can constantly hear the sound from them as well as explosions and some kind of guns being fired in the distance.

President Mubarak have been expected to speak to the people on national TV this evening, but so far no announcements have been made and it's still very unclear what will happen next. Christians and muslims alike are walking side by side in the streets and everyone is very friendly and helpful towards each other. The ruling party's main building is set ablaze and clouds of smoke can be seen on the horizon in all directions. A military commander spoke on TV, urging people to respect the curfew and not force them into more violent means. He also said that he is positive that the president will listen to the people and make necessary reforms. That remains to be seen though, as Mubarak still hasn't gone public since the protests begun last Tuesday.

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