British writer Lucy Emmerson blogs from Cairo on events taking place in post-revolution Egypt…
Over the past weekend Downtown Cairo has once again borne witness to scenes of disgusting military violence leaving 10 dead and over 430 wounded. Despite attempts by security forces to confiscate all cameras in the area, several instances of horrific brutality have been caught on video, rendering useless any attempts by the military to deny the claims.
One particularly savage instance involves a young women, who appears to have been dressed conservatively and veiled, being stripped, kicked, beaten and then left lying in the street. Another shows multiple soldiers beating an already-unconscious man. There are reports of those in military custody being beaten and given electric shocks.
Downtown Cairo has come to resemble a battle field. Military checkpoints, concrete walls, barriers of barbed wire and lines of soldiers prevent freedom of movement. To move around requires the showing of ID, and many justifications regarding where you are going and why.
SCAF can no longer pretend that their actions are proportional, and in the interests of security and “peace-keeping”. The violence is clearly excessive to the point of gratuitous, and designed to intimidate the populate into inaction, much in the manner of that perpetrated by the Mubarak regime.
The resurgence in violence follows hot on the heels of an alleged incident of poisoning which took place on Wednesday when an unidentified veiled women delivered Hawawshi (minced meat sandwiches) to protesters staging a sit-in outside the cabinet offices. 43 protesters had to go to hospital after the sandwiches caused them to vomit and faint. An investigation is being demanded by the protesters into whether or not the poisoning was intentional.
Also this week, blogger Maikel Nabil was sentenced to 2 years in jail for “insulting the military” leading to fears that freedom of speech in the new Egypt will come with the caveat “but only if SCAF likes what you are saying”.
Amid the violence and controversy, Parliamentary Assembly elections are on-going, lending a friendly democratic face to the authoritarian military regime. The second round took place last week and included multiple rule violations despite tough-talking by the Supreme Electoral Commision.
Yasser El-Rifai, a candidate with the Revolution Continues electoral alliance, was beaten unconscious by military police in Sharqiya over a dispute regarding whether or not he was allowed to be in the polling station, and the Egyptian Bloc have complained that their headquarters were broken into by thugs.
Campaigning at polling stations continued to be a problem, and some of party list elections have had to be delayed until next week due to revelations that several parties had been left off the ballot entirely.
Early results indicate that the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party have once again swept the floor with their opponents, and are now likely to gain an absolute majority in the legislature. However, a harder battle for power than the election race may come if they attempt to wrest real control of the country from the military council.
Lucy Emmerson is a British writer and political commentator based in Cairo, focusing on the Arab Spring and other key developments in the region. You can follow her blog here
Archive:- Dispatches from Cairo