It’s the first selfie I took a few days after arriving home from Qatar last summer. I was still jet lagged, silly excited yet overcome with emotions.
On Friday, November 18th an organized peaceful protest was held in Tahrir Square to address the dissatisfaction many citizens have of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (also known as SCAF) currently running the nation since Hosny Mubarak’s fall in February. Of course, the main concern is the military trials of civilians, including that of Egyptian activist and blogger Alaa Abdelfattah alongside thousands of others.
Friday’s protest took place in Tahrir Square, similar to the many Occupy Movement protests happening here in my Bay Area hometown cities of San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose. The reaction from police and the military however has turned this peaceful protest into complete violent chaos!
Police and SCAF soldiers entered the square attacking protesters with rubber bullets and tear gas. Many reported that the tear gas used seemed to be more lethal than those used in the past. There were reports of protesters suffering from eye and nose irritations as well as seizures after inhaling these toxins. And surprise, the tear gas is “Made in the USA”!! A company by the name of Combined Tactical Systems (CTB) seems to be behind the latest in tear gases that are more lethal, similar to those used in Yemen. Ironically, the company’s website address is less-lethal.com. We need to call our representatives here in the USA to stop selling or sending these products to SCAF! CTB’s address and phone number can be found at the end of this rant.
This violent attack also saw several protesters being shot directly in the eye, either from close range or trained snipers. One in particular is activist Ahmed Harara who lost his right eye on January 28th. He lost his left eye on Saturday November 19th amongst other activists who were actually in the hospital with him being treated by the same doctor. He is now completely blind but in unbelievable high spirits. He is my hero!
Later a video surfaced of SCAF and police congratulating each other on shooting a man in the eye! Even if one doesn’t know Arabic, it’s just disgusting and graphic to hear these officers cheer on the shooting and possibly killing civilians they are suppose to be protecting!
Thanks to social media and none to the many state-run new stations, Egyptians were made well aware of these attacks taking place in Tahrir Square. Solidarity protests took place in Alexandria, Suez and surrounding counties on Saturday and Sunday. There were reports of protesters sitting in at several police stations, ministry offices and outside SCAF facilities. The only major report came from Alexandria and Suez when riot police responded with tear gas.
Back in Tahrir Square on Sunday, the Imam of the Omar Makram Mosque tried to call a cease-fire between both sides when police on several occasions attacked the makeshift hospital in the square and inside the mosque. Many doctors carried the injured as they escaped the tear gas bombs. It didn’t last long for I received statements from people on the front lines that they were being attacked again after “the truce” lasted maybe 10 minutes! Many took refuge in near by churches, mosques and homes.
At the American University of Cairo (AUC) on the other side of Tahrir Square, several snipers were spotted on the rooftop shooting at the protesters below. Many protesters were able to escape tear gas bombs and bullets, both lethal and rubber. Again, many tweeted how they were having difficulty breathing and irritation in many parts of their bodies. Others saw many shot directly in the eye, head and neck including several dying on the scene. One very graphic photo shows a 23 year old man shot in the neck. Doctors in the makeshift hospital were unable to save him.
As of right now (Monday morning in Cairo, Sunday night in San Francisco), over 30 have been reported dead and at least 2,000 injured. This is with none stop violence since Friday night, almost 40 hours as I write this rant. What is happening in Egypt is not a second revolution because the first one never ended!