As international news agencies have reported, protests in Tahrir Square were followed by some chaos at the Israeli embassy in Dokki.
The Tahrir protests were slated as an event in the name of “Correcting the Path of the Revolution.” Political groups of various persuasions have been increasingly fed up with what they believe to be lackluster reforms and authoritarian policies by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF). Issues ranging from the timetable of upcoming elections to rising street crime have been particularly contentious issues. That being said, yesterday’s protests were far from the largest demonstrations the country has seen, with an estimated crowd of 50,000 – 100,000 people showing up.
Coming into the Downtown Sadat Metro station at around 1 pm, Friday prayers were reaching a close, and there was near silence in the underground subway hub. Above ground, a stage was set up on one side of the square, football fans known as the Ahly and Zamalek “Ultras” chanted nearby, and demonstrators began to arrive en masse.
The leaders of various pro-democracy and revolution groups passed around a microphone on the main stage, appealing to the SCAF to address their grievances and make good on their pledge to uphold the rule of law and transfer power to an elected government.
Prominent revolutionary groups such as the April 6 Movement entered the square carrying their respective banners starting around 2 pm.
Only much later, after most had vacated Tahrir, did crowds swell around the Israeli embassy. By around 7:30 pm, news spread that a group of protesters had breached the wall, recently erected by the SCAF, that surrounds the embassy building. Protesters also climbed the building and took down the Israeli flag for the second time in a month, replacing it with a Palestinian flag.
At approximately 10:30 pm, tanks rolled into the area, also home to the Saudi Arabian and French embassy buildings. Protesters had broken into the embassy building (the Israeli offices are only on the top two floors) and thrown documents out the window. At the same time, hundreds of people gathered at the gate of a security building near the embassies.
Al-Masry Al-Youm reports that 219 protesters were injured, and one died of a heart attack during last night’s events. SCAF officials have called emergency meetings and put the country on a “State of Alert.”
Photos: Tahrir Square, Cairo – September 9. Revolutionary leaders speak on a stage on the North side of the square, while Ahly “Ultras” chant slogans under their banner and reporters look from above (slide 2). The black banners with fists on them belong to the April 6 Movement, comprised of young pro-democracy activists who were integral to the January 25 revolution.