Egypt’s Generals Wait in the Wings as the Revolution Turns Messy
There is a narrow footbridge overlooking the entrance to the ministry of defence in the Abbasiya district of Cairo. On Friday afternoon, this crowded bridge provided the best view of the frontline in the latest round of violent clashes between the army and demonstrators who suspect the country’s ruling generals of wanting to hold on to power.
On one side of a ring of barbed wire, soldiers hurled bricks and fired tear gas. Below the bridge, the protesters facing the soldiers threw their own missiles, while others removed the injured on motorbikes or carried them limp on their shoulders, some insensible, others spattered in blood.
I bumped into Hazem Abdel Rahman, a young protester, drenched in sweat, holding his injured arm. “I came here this morning and everything was peaceful. People linked arms to keep the crowd back from the ministry of defence. But then after Friday prayers people came who we did not know and infiltrated our demonstration and started throwing stones,” he said.
Others say the trouble started after some protesters were grabbed by the soldiers trying to cross the wire. A few minutes after I spoke to Hazem, the first sound of live gunfire rang out, driving the protesters back in panic. I ran, but found myself trapped between two groups of soldiers, forced to climb several walls and cross a railway line to escape, only to be confronted by an angry group of supporters of the military.