30 January 2011
Last Tuesday was Police Day in Egypt, a national holiday. Several political groups including Kifaya, 6 April Group, and the National Association for Change had already announced they would hold demonstration calling for political change. On Facebook, thousands of young people had responded positively, vowing to take part.
Starting noontime that day protestors, including large numbers of women, began gathering at various sites in most Egyptian towns—in Cairo, Alexandria, Baltim, Kafr al-Sheikh, Ismailiya, Mehalla al-Kubra, Benha, and Assiut. They chanted anti-regime slogans calling for political change, an end to corruption, poverty, and oppression. The numbers of protestors swelled into the tens of thousands. In Cairo, they began marching until they converged onto Tahrir Square in central Cairo, planning to head on to Parliament building and the Interior Ministry. The security forces tried to hold them back but used no violence; eye witnesses say it was actually the other way round; the protestors frequently attacked the security men.
Until around 5:00pm eyewitnesses say the demonstrators were mainstream Egyptians with no particular party affiliation. Then, in Alexandria, the Muslim Brothers joined in. Several of them began giving speeches with a religious character.
The protestors occupied the streets and vowed to sit-in until their demands were answered. A number of them brought food and water, and medical school students conducted first aid to demonstrators who needed it. The police attempted to disperse them using tear gas and water cannon but failed. Finally at 2:30am, and after firing at the crowds with rubber bullets and water cannon the crowd dispersed. The demonstrations spilled over into the following day, but this time the security men resorted to their reputed violence with the demonstrators. Yet there was talk of repeat demonstrations in the future.
One security man lost his life in Cairo. In Suez, two demonstrators were killed in clashes with the security forces. The Interior Ministry also said that 18 security officers and men had been wounded.