Writing by Patrick Keddie
Yesterday we saw hundreds of protesters pelting police buildings with rocks, sheets of glass and Molotov cocktails for hours on Mohamed Mahmoud Street, off Tahrir Square. The protesters called for the authorities to come out and face them in the streets but the police opted to stay inside, chucking back rocks and glass at protesters and detonating the odd tear gas canister. On Tuesday a protester, Gaber Salah, was killed after allegedly being struck by a tear gas canister fired into his head by the police.
This was the third day of protests in Mohamed Mahmoud Street commemorating large demonstrations a year ago in which 47 people died in confrontations with the police
The back and forth exchange of debris between police and protesters only intensified as the afternoon went by. In one building the police used French shutters – and at one point a dustpan – to bat away rocks before hurling back their own missiles. Protesters managed to enter one government building, triumphantly scattering bits of paper into the air. Many of the buildings were pockmarked by the relentless barrage of rocks.
Most of the protesters yesterday were children and teenagers – students, schoolchildren and ‘ultras’ football supporters – many clearly having fun as they threw missiles and taunted the police. Some protesters wore oven gloves or held pieces of cardboard so that they could pick up tear gas canisters and hurl them straight back into the police compound. We also saw older men in suits and smart shirts breaking up rocks and chucking them. At the edge of the crowd motorcyclists waited to ferry out injured protesters.
Life carried on more or less as normal around the adjacent streets, whilst in Tahrir a field hospital was set up to treat injured protesters and hawkers sold face masks to help protect against tear gas.
The walls on Mohamed Mahmoud are lined with graffiti commemorating the martyrs of the revolution and depicting the villains amongst the Egyptian authorities. These protests are expected to continue until Friday and they show that the revolution is very much on-going.