A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Monday, July 25, 2011

Abbasiyya Clashes Mark Growing Rift Between SCAF and Revolutionaries

 Violence broke out on July 23, Egypt's National Day, when Egyptian demonstrators staged a march from Tahrir Square to the Ministry of Defense compound in Abbasiyya. Though soldiers and security police sealed off the compound, the demonstrators were attacked by baltagiyya,  the "thugs" who keep appearing \in tense situations and are generally armed with sticks or knives. An Al-Masry al-Youm video shows the march and subsequent clashes:

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) communique 69 had explicitly criticized the April 6 Movement, which led the Saturday march,  and subsequently expressed its thanks to those citizens "who formed a cordon" to protect the Defense Ministry in communique 70.

Increasingly, the demonstrators are chanting against SCAF and Field Marshal Tantawi, while the Army is talking increasingly tough. Many are comparing the clashes over the weekend to the "Battle of the Camel" on February 2, when Mubarak supporters on horseback and camelback (brought from the Pyramids) attacked the encampment in Tahrir.

Another sign of the growing tension: when talk-show host Dina Abdel-Rahman defended a writer who had criticized a member of SCAF, she was summarily fired.

With elections approaching, concerns about the military's willingness to hand over power are naturally growing. The tensions over the weekend have raised the heat considerably.


Anonymous said...

Dear Michael, please edit your posts. While I enjoyed the update, there are at least four typos in this short piece. Also, it is not clear that all who were instigating violence in Abbasiyya were "baltagiya."

Michael Collins Dunn said...

Thanks, anonymous. I hope I have gotten them all now; I'll plead Monday morning as the cause. As for Baltagiyya, some of the protesters used the term in their Twitter and Facebook posts, though I know officials are saying they were ordinary residents of Abbasiyya.