dispatches from Cairo

Dispatches from Cairo: #10

British writer Lucy Emmerson blogs from Cairo on events taking place in post-revolution Egypt…

 

No SCAF © Gigi Ibrahim

 

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 

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Dispatches from Cairo: #9

British writer Lucy Emmerson blogs from Cairo on events taking place in post-revolution Egypt…

 

© Lucy Emmerson

 

Over the last week and a half Cairo has been enveloped by a sense of elation, as the population participated in the initial round of voting for the country’s first free and fair elections in over thirty years. On the 28th and 29th of November voters queued across the capital for up to five hours, at times enduring cold and wet conditions. Lines of people sprawled across the city, winding around buildings, and stretching across roads.

Turnout across the country was high, averaging 62 %, while figures for Cairo itself were significantly higher. Downtown, voters snacked on falafel sandwiches bought from street vendors while in the more upscale neighbourhood of Zamalek, waiters from a nearby branch of Cilantros took orders of Chai Tea and Hazelnut Hot Chocolate from those waiting in line. Some polling stations were women-only while at others there were two queues, segregated by gender, to prevent harassment, an problem endemic in Egypt.

The announcement of the first round results on state television on Friday heralded a much-forecast victory for Islamist groups. The Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party claimed around 40% of the vote and the ultra-conservative Salafist al-Nour won nearly 25%. The Egyptian Bloc, a newly-formed but well funded coalition of left-liberal parties, came in third place with around 15%, while former members of Mubarak’s NDP did surprisingly poorly.

Most analysts are declaring the election thus far a success, despite numerous acknowledged rule violations including campaigning outside polling stations and the use of religious slogans on campaign materials. Official promises to clam down these activities in subsequent rounds of voting appear to be without weight, as Monday and Tuesday’s run-off elections saw no great change.

Turnout for the run-off elections has been far lower, as is typically the case. However, in the case of Egypt this is particularly worrying given that in only 4 of the 56 Individual Candidate seats up for grabs last week did a candidate win a majority of the vote. The remaining 52 seats will be decided by the smaller percentage of voters who have braved the cold to vote a second time.

Alongside the elections, a rather dilapidated occupation continues in Tahrir Square, where anywhere between several hundred and one thousand protesters are demanding that SCAF cede power to a civilian authority immediately and that Prime Minister Kamal Ganzouri resign.

Many of those present boycotted the election believing that any democratic transition overseen by SCAF cannot have legitimacy, due in part to the fact that over 12,000 political dissenters are still languishing in military jails and therefore unable to vote. Among them is prominent blogger, Alaa Abdel Fattah, imprisoned for allegedly inciting violence against the military during the clashes on October 9th outside Downtown’s Maspero building in which 27 civilians died.

Voting for the People’s Assembly, the lower house of parliament, will continue into January. Beyond that loom elections for the Shura Council (the upper house) and eventually for the presidency. Throughout all of this, the balance will likely continue to shift between the die-hard Tahriri’s who still want to scrap the entire system and rebuild from scratch, and those who want the country to move forward immediately and allow economic recovery to begin.

 

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 

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Dispatches from Cairo: #8

British writer Lucy Emmerson blogs from Cairo on events taking place in post-revolution Egypt…

 

© Lucy Emmerson

 

Crowds are continuing to occupy Tahrir Square, despite the fact that it has begun to drizzle. The atmosphere is tense and yesterday’s “Legitimacy of the Revolution” rally drew a sizable number of people, although not as many as have been seen throughout the past week.

The sit-in has mostly ceased to be violent since a wall was erected on Thursday to prevent anyone entering Mohammed Mahmoud Street, the focal point of battles.

The scene has looked very different since this barricade was erected. Previously, fierce back-and-forth fighting raged between protesters and riot police, both sides throwing tear-gas canisters, the police shooting rubber, and some say live, ammunition, and protesters retaliating by lobbing slabs of paving stone back at them. While the majority of those gathered in the area were peacefully assembled in Tahrir Square, all heads were facing the direction of this one street, all eyes fixated on the battle.

Since the ceasefire, the crowd has shifted back to the centre of the square. Some individuals continue to hang around the end of Mohammed Mahmoud Street, dejectedly smoking cigarettes, unsure of their next move now that they have no one to direct their anger at.

Others are huddled under blankets or in doorways, sheltering from the elements, while still more defiantly wave flags and chant, despite the weather. Baked sweet potatoes are being sold by vendors, along with seeds, nuts, and candy-floss; activists hand out leaflets detailing demands.

Protesters are demanding that elections be delayed and that Field Marshall Tantawi and the whole of SCAF step down immediately, neither of which are likely to occur.

They claim that elections, due to start tomorrow, are being held too soon to allow new parties enough time to organise and campaign, giving an advantage to established groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood. The Brotherhood have been conspicuous by their absence during the past week.

The military have made some concessions to the protesters in recent days; they accepted the cabinet’s resignation, committed to hold presidential elections by July 2012, and agreed to release all those arrested since the renewed protests began. However, protesters are unsatisfied with the newly-appointed cabinet headed by Kamal Ganzouri, a former Prime Minister under Mubarak, due to his age and connection to the old regime.

The military have also assented to hold a referendum on the issue of whether or not they will remain in power. This proposal has been greeted by scorn with activists, who claim that it does not go far enough. It is a shrewd move by SCAF, and one which gambles on the “silent majority” of Egyptians, fearful of a complete breakdown in law and order in the event of a power vacuum, voting for them to retain their position.

At the current time elections look set to go ahead, but the process in unlikely to go smoothly. Results are likely to be disputed, and some parties are sure to be accused of corrupt activities. Whatever the eventual outcome, it seems unlikely that the capital will know much peace in the coming months.

 

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 

 

Dispatches from Cairo: #7

British writer Lucy Emmerson blogs from Cairo on events taking place in post-revolution Egypt…

 

Tahrir Square protests © Lucy Emmerson

 

The largest protests since February have rocked Downtown Cairo over the last few days, leaving at least 3 dead and 800 injured. Events began on Friday, when Islamists mobilised to occupy Tahrir Square, their numbers in the tens of thousands. Since this relatively peaceful beginning the protests have broken down into chaos, with pockets of violence concentrated in several side-streets.

 

© Lucy Emmerson

Most businesses Downtown have entirely shut down, many people unable or unwilling to brave the violence to get to work. I, with a friend, spent the afternoon in Tahrir handing out Pepsi-soaked tissues to protesters to counteract the burning of the tear-gas.

People continued to gather throughout the afternoon, brutal fighting taking place less than 50 meters in front of us. Motorcycle ambulances carried the injured to hastily-constructed field hospitals. Many people had been rendered unconscious by the intensity of the tear gas, while still more were bleeding from head wounds.

 

© Lucy Emmerson

The protests were initiated to protest against SCAF’s recent controversial constitutional principles declaration which would give them unprecedented control over the new constitution, possibly even outweighing those of the elected legislature and president. There are also concerns that the decision to not hold presidential elections until 2013 is to allow SCAF the time to prepare a candidate themselves, possibly even General Tantawi himself.

Although the document has now been amended, the protesters on the streets have smelt blood, and show no signs of backing down. Their demands now include assurances from the armed forces that they will hold presidential elections by April 2012, and thereafter withdraw entirely from the political sphere. People currently feel that the armed forces have hijacked their revolution, and that the current regime is the same as Mubarak’s but with a different face.

 

© Lucy Emmerson

At the time of writing the armed forces, apparently having learned nothing from the events of Maspero several weeks ago, are attempting to forcibly clear Tahrir square, and protests have spread to cities across the country. SCAF appear to have lost the trust of the people, and their actions today will do nothing to improve their image. Egyptians are determined to not allow their revolution to become a military coup, and will not leave Tahrir without a fight.

 

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 

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Dispatches from Cairo: #6

British writer Lucy Emmerson blogs from Cairo on events taking place in post-revolution Egypt…

 

© Khalid Albaih

 

Egyptian elections will be kicking off on the 28th of November, but despite their looming presence, coverage has been relatively low, as has anticipation.

One reason is the sense of political malaise. Many people are convinced that “nothing has changed”, and replacing Mubarak with SCAF was merely cutting the head off the beast.

Bloggers have been arbitrarily arrested, protestors were opened fire on a little over a month ago, and a blind eye has been turned to numerous cases of alleged torture. For a comprehensive list of the injustices perpetrated or ignored by the state in the months since the revolution read this article on Ahram Online, an Egyptian English language news website.

One can see then why elections organised by SCAF are a less-than-inspiring prospect. People are finding it hard to envisage that any “transition” overseen by such an old-regime piece of apparatus could bring about real change.

They are also unclear on the reasons for the 10 month delay. “I think people are not happy with all the delay… [they] are not so excited” says Omer Emam, a 22 year old student at Cairo University. There are fears that the reason for the delay was to allow time for a cover up of crimes committed by members of the old regime who still hold positions of power.

While this is not impossible, it is important to remember that several months ago secularists and Islamists alike were pushing for a delay, in order to allow themselves more time to organise.

An understandable source of dissatisfaction is the confusion regarding the electoral system itself, which is unreasonably complex, and will run for over three months. The implications of having such a disjointed electoral system could be far reaching. Voter fatigue could set in due to the many rounds of voting and the confusing method of converting votes into seats.

Having said all of this, the process of candidate registration appears to have been free of all manipulation and shady activities, and turnout is likely to be high as the first free and fair elections the country has had in many years begins. Over the next few installments I will bring you updates as events unfold.

 

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 

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Dispatches from Cairo: #5

British writer Lucy Emmerson blogs from Cairo on events taking place in post-revolution Egypt…

 

© Lucy Emmerson

 

Sprinting away from a military charge on Sunday night I had a sinking “here we go again” feeling. The sense of déjà vu only intensified as I spent the evening following the tags #tahrir and #maspero on twitter, and learned of the 24 confirmed deaths, the 200 wounded, and that the curfew had been reinstated, if only temporarily.

Back in January and February these nights were common; nights where we’d stay awake in groups, calling friends across town, and debating worst-case scenarios. What was different in this case was that it was so unexpected. Sunday, the first day of the Middle-Eastern working week, has not traditionally been marked by excessive violence but last night proved to be an exception.

“Bloody Sunday”, as it has already come to be known, began early in the evening outside the Maspero building in Downtown. The building houses the headquarters of the state television station, and was the destination of a peaceful march-turned-sit-in by thousands of Coptic Christians.

Copts constitute an estimated ten percent of Egypt’s population, and they suffer much discrimination, legal and otherwise. Their specific grievance in this case was that a church in a village called Merinab in the Aswan governorate was attacked after the governor, Mustafa al-Seyyed, claimed that it had been built without planning permission.

Sectarian violence is common in Egypt, and has been especially so since the revolution, with sporadic attacks on churches being perpetrated by plainclothes thugs, and the general lack of personal security impacting minority groups most seriously. Fears for the future also play their part, with Copts fearful of the possibility of an Islamic state.

However, this was no ordinary incidence of sectarian violence. The exact sequence of events is hard to pinpoint. State TV claims that the Copts were armed, and attacked first, and rumours once again abound of “foreign influences”, but later reports suggest it was the army who attacked first. This version appears to be backed up by images and videos appearing on social media websites showing protesters being brutally beaten, and armed vehicles driving directly at groups of unarmed individuals.

Furthermore, these clashes were not as simple as Muslim versus Copt. Many Muslims came out in support of the Copts, and by the end of the night the violence appeared to be of a civilian versus military character. January’s chant of “The people want the downfall of the regime” has been replaced with “The people want the downfall of Tantawi”, General Tantawi being the head of the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF), which currently runs the country.

Grievances against SCAF include continued military tribunals for civilians, and on-going disputes about election laws, as well as allegations of corruption due to their strong ties to Mubarak’s regime.

Opposition to the army is growing, and Sunday’s clashes mark the largest outbreak of violence since Mubarak stepped down in February. On Twitter, one phrase was much re-tweeted:

Today’s Martyrs are not Muslims, or Copts – they’re Egyptian. And their Own Army Killed them.

It is in the military’s interest to portray Sunday’s events as a particularly violent outbreak of sectarian violence, and if they succeed in spinning it as such, they will be able to use it in their on-going propaganda war against reform and progress, and to justify claiming for themselves increasingly draconian powers for “security reasons”. Whether they succeed in doing so, will depend on how events unfold over the next few days.

 

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

Dispatches from Cairo: #4

British writer Lucy Emmerson, currently based in Cairo, blogs on events taking place in Egypt…

 

© Lucy Emmerson

 

The protests that continue to flare up around the capital are not solely the handiwork of left-leaning secularists. Protesting has become the weapon of choice for any group with something to say, and after 30 years of not being able to say anything, people have a lot of bottled up anger to express.

In recent months there have been a spate of protests by Islamists groups calling for the release of Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, a fervently anti-Semitic and anti-Western Egyptian Muslim spiritual leader currently serving a life sentence in the U.S..

Sheikh Rahman was convicted of seditious conspiracy  – where a crime need only be planned, not necessarily attempted – for his involvement in a plan to bomb New York City landmarks in 1993. The protests are organised by his son, Sheikh Mohammed Omar Abdel Rahman, a career jihadist who believes that 9/11 paved the way for the Arab Spring.

The other day I found myself caught up in one such protest on my way home from work, when walking past the US embassy. The demonstration, flanked by photographers, and even accompanied by a man playing a piano on the back of a trailer, was entirely peaceful, and consisted of only a few hundred people, mostly Salafis. It is evidence that Salafis, who have many times criticised the Muslim Brotherhood for their political agenda, are becoming more politically engaged

Sheikh Rahman is accused of being the leader of al-Gamaa al-Islamiya, an extremist Islamist terrorist group-turned political organisation, responsible for a massacre in Luxor in 1997 which killed 58 foreign tourists and four Egyptians. The group has since renounced violence, and agreed to a Nonviolence Initiative with the Egyptian government, also in 1997, which led to the release of 2,000 of its imprisoned members.

Followers of Salafism do not consider themselves to be members of an organisation, but adherents of a school of thought. In contrast to al-Gamaa al-Islamiya, they have always been non-violent, excepting a minority sub-section known as Jihadi Salafis. In Mubarak’s Egypt they were for the most part apolitical, an irony considering that one of the key facets of their belief system is the indivisibility of politics and religion. They believe in a strict interpretation of the Qur’an and seek to practice the purest form of Islam through emulation of the life of the Prophet Mohammed, and the two earliest generations of Muslims following.

Despite their differing stance on violence, both Salafis and al-Gamaa al-Islamiya take an ultra-religious and ultra-conservative stance on the future of the country and envision a constitution grounded in Shari’a law. Protesters claims that Sheikh Rahman was one of the first to oppose the old regime, and is a victim of Mubarak’s policy of co-operation with American security agencies. They claim he is being ill-treated by the American judicial system and want to have him either freed, or at least repatriated and imprisoned in Egypt.

They seek to persuade the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces to put pressure on the American government to adhere to their demands. However, despite the fact that the time is ripe for rallying support for any anti-American movement, the likelihood that they will persuade the interim government to issue a request is extremely low and the likelihood of the American government acceding to it, lower still.

 

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 

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Dispatches from Cairo: #3

British writer Lucy Emmerson, currently based in Cairo, blogs on events taking place in Egypt…

 

© Lucy Emmerson

 

A malaise has settled over Egypt’s population as the ever more complicated saga of how best to move towards democracy unfolds. As the politically engaged debate increasingly ideologically charged issues of election law and the “continuing revolution”, large swathes of the population want nothing more than for elections to be held, and for life to go on.

The debates are, for the most part, extremely valid. The path to democracy was never going to be an easy one, and the hastily wrought unity of Tahrir Square was never going to last. Arguments rage over the electoral process, the implications of imposing supra-constitutional principles before elections to “safeguard” the revolution, and how far the legitimacy of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) to make these kinds of decisions extends.

The problem is that the slogans of the revolution made it all sound so simple: remove the dictator, democracy will reign. Done. The end. Egypt will become an enlightened utopia. Sadly, there was no “one” vision for what that would entail; sharia law, a secular constitution, or something in between.

The general feeling of hostile indifference also stems from the overwhelming impression that nothing has changed. The old guard still dominate in the form of SCAF and leaders of business, industry and the media. Now there is even a word for it: ‘flool’ literally meaning ‘the remnants’ referring to the remnants of the old regime.

While there are still some die-hards keeping up with every political development, many just want some semblance of “normal” to return to the country in order to allow economic recovery to begin, and socio-economic conditions to improve. And while so much focus is on events in Cairo it is easy to forget that millions of Egyptians live in Upper Egypt and Sinai, where revolutionary spirit never took a hold in the first place.

The revolution has been hard on ordinary Egyptians, damaging incomes through loss of tourism and causing high rates of inflation. Disenchantment is high, and while hope still remains, more and more there is sense that people expected too much too soon, and are now disappointed.

 

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 

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Dispatches from Cairo: #2

British writer Lucy Emmerson, currently based in Cairo, blogs on events taking place in Egypt…

 

 

Once again protestors in Egypt have hit the headlines, this time for their storming of the Israeli embassy late Friday night. The embassy protest was not the most well attended of the Friday protests, but sadly has garnered the most attention due to the ferocity and violence of its attendees, and the fact that it led to the withdrawal of the Israeli diplomatic mission almost in its entirety, leading to fears of a complete breakdown in diplomatic relations. While it seems that the situation has been salvaged, this sinister new development has caused a distraction from the movement to get the revolution back on track, the aim of “The Friday of Correcting the Path”.

In Tahrir Square, where I was, hundreds of thousands gathered after Friday prayers to peacefully protest against continued military tribunals, to demand election laws be amended (more on that next installment), and to implement a minimum and maximum wage limit.

Those who marched on the Israeli embassy, tore down the recently-constructed protective wall, and then breached the most easily accessible of the rooms, were a splinter group consisting of several thousand people.

Their professed aim was to protest against the killing of Egyptian border guards last month, the inadequacy of the subsequent botched apology made by Israel, and also to show the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces that their stance on Israel was too lenient, and not in keeping with popular opinion.

While the construction of the wall was widely seen as provocative, and symbolic of the government’s perceived protective stance towards Israel, even many of the most ardent revolutionaries have spoken out against this blatant infringement of international law.

Anti-Israeli sentiment is rife among protestors, left-secularists and Islamists alike, but most seem to be in agreement that Friday’s events were a step too far. They correctly, judging by recent commentary, ascertain that it will harm the credibility of the protest movement in the eyes of the public, and offer ammunition to those who claim that Egyptians are not ready for democracy.

Reactions to the event are almost universally appalled by both the slow response of the armed forces, and the actions of the protestors themselves who, after breaking in using hammers and other tools, threw documents out of windows and attempted to attack staff within, who had to be rescued by Egyptian commandos.

The question of why the police and army did so little to stop the attacks is as yet unanswered. A likely answer appears to be that they were afraid of being accused of using the same harsh tactics as the Mubarak regime, who always came down hard on indications of anti-Israeli sentiment.

Whatever the reason, it has done little to calm fears of a continually deteriorating domestic situation, and will likely lead to future protests, peaceful or not, losing the backing of the public at large, and being greeted with hostility by the armed forces.

 

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
Image © Lucy Emmerson

Archive:- Dispatches from Cairo

Dispatches from Cairo: #1

British writer Lucy Emmerson, currently based in Cairo, blogs on events taking place in Egypt…

 

 

Despite hearing rumours that events in Tunisia in December 2010 were threatening to spill over into the rest of the Arab world, when I moved out to Egypt in January I little expected that within a matter of weeks I would be chanting for the fall of a dictator of 30 years, and learning that washing my face with Coca Cola was the best way to reduce the stinging effect of tear-gas.

I moved to Egypt to work for an NGO which works to improve the lives of Cairo’s significant refugee population, but quickly found myself on a steep learning curve in the radically altered social and political landscape of post-Revolutionary Egypt. There was a mass-exodus of expats, as companies and universities evacuated, and they were replaced by an influx of journalists and political analysts, all falling over themselves to cover the biggest story of the year. Now, having joined their ranks, I write a blog covering events as they unfold across the Arab world, and try to offer insight into this period of evolution; the progress it makes and the setbacks it faces.

Walking around Cairo today, evidence of recent events is everywhere, most obviously in the impressive street art expositions dotted around the city, depicting revolutionary scenes, and symbols of power and victory. Downtown, riot police still encircle a grassy patch in the centre of Tahrir Square, which they have been occupying for the past three weeks since the military forcibly ejected protestors who had been holding a protracted sit-in.

Periodic outbursts of unrest continue to disrupt daily life, most significantly of late around the Israeli embassy, as people have been gathering to protest against the recent killing of five Egyptian security personnel in a border clash last month.

Outside the police academy building in New Cairo is another flash-point for violence whenever ousted-President Hosni Mubarak’s trial is in session, as both pro- and anti-Mubarak protestors gather, and the recent decision by presiding Judge Ahmed Refaat to stop televising the trial has done nothing to reassure activists that justice will be done.

Revolutionary spirit ebbs and flows in the city as various groups call for restraint or action, but it’s clear for many that this revolution is far from over.

 

Lucy Emmerson is a British writer and political commentator based in Cairo, focusing on the Arab Spring and other key developments in the region.
Image © Lucy Emmerson

Archive:- Dispatches from Cairo