Thursday, May 03, 2012

What's really going on in Abbaseya?

(Unfortunately, Facebook has taken down most of the pictures that I have put here in the post)

Background about Abbaseya district and its standpoint from the events in the uprising

One of the protesters in the sit in outside of the SCAF headquarter

I was born and raised in Abbaseya district, an old neighborhood in east Cairo. There are many important government headquarters and ministries here most importantly the Egyptian ministry of defense and the current headquarter of the Supreme Council of Armed Forces SCAF where many protests, marches, and rallies against military rule have taken place since last year. 

Abbaseya is close to downtown it's quite big and is divided into mostly (low income) and (middle middle class) areas. The national democratic party of Mubarak has always used paid thugs from there in the previous elections and crimes orchestrated by the authority. 

After the revolution SCAF, ex members of the NDP, police, and retired military personnel continued the same thing: Hiring thugs and undercover agents to attack protests and disrupt sit ins whether in Tahrir or Abbaseya.

There were more than one accident where anti SCAF protesters and thugs from Abbaseya and neighborhood people clashed (the most famous incidents were the 23rd of July 2011- 9th of September 2011) and most recently in April and May 2012.

Abbaseya was also a destination for most of the Pro-SCAF and pro-military rule anti-Tahrir demonstrations in Egypt. At some point revealing you're a part of the ongoing uprising would get you in so much trouble there so we had to keep quite about this.

What happened in Abbaseya (27April-May 2012)?

There's a big rally in Tahrir #April20 joined by many revolutionary groups (RS- April6- Independent activists) in addition to members of the Muslim Brotherhood- supporters of Hazem Salah Abou Islmail and supporters of other candidates who don't want Mubarak people running for elections. 

Some revolutionary groups decided to remain in the square until the next week where another rally took place, most of them were revolutionary Islamists groups and many independent activists. They remained in the square until Friday #27April against SCAF and denouncing military rule. Then they decided to march towards the ministry of defense in Abbaseya.   

Thousands of revolutionary Islamist/ Salafi groups, Ultras members, April 6 members, Kefaya members, young activists, and ordinary people marched all the way to Abbaseya from Tahrir and then decided to start the sit in outside of the headquarter. 

This is the cordon SCAF forces have formed to stop the protesters from approaching the ministry of defense.

These are 23 Pictures I took during the day for the sit in Sat 28th:

68 pictures for the sit in starting from the 27th and throughout three days:

The clashes

The first attack: 

Shortly after I left 11 pm of the 28th and the early hrs of 29th thugs hired by SCAF and possibly people from my hood started attacking the sit in and the attack left many injured and deaths. People from the neighborhood, hired thugs, security forces in plain cloth were involved in the attack and they used molotov cocktails, birdshots and machine guns at some point.

Pictures from the first attack: 

The second attack (apr30):

The thugs came again the night of April the 30th and attacked the sit in, it was a minor attack and some people got injured but nobody died.

The third and most recent attack (May the 1st- 2nd):

That was the most bloody attack and it continued from after mid night of May 1st and until the afternoon of May the second. more than 20 people got killed in addition to 150 injured.

These are 21 pictures for the attack during the night and until today's afternoon. 

And this is another album taken by my friend Tareq who spent the whole night at the sit in:

Afterwards many marches came out from across Cairo to the sit in in solidarity.
I went today and the number of protesters is huge and so far no attacks happened.

Here's a picture for one of the marches showing women and men from different backgrounds because the media is claiming these are just "Ultra conservative Salafis".

And the latest right now in the sit in after mid night in Cairo.
What followed all of this especially in Friday was sad and horrible and it left me speechless so I will just share some images of what happened and I video I spoke in will come at the end of the post:

Abbaseya events are a black point in the history of the Egyptian military 

Summary and important notes:

1- The march and the sit in was initiated and joined by various revolutionary groups (Not just Hazem Salah Abu Islamil supporters or ultra conservative Salafis as the messed up media was trying to show and how some activists insisted on reporting).

2- In addition to the revolutionary Islamists who took part in the sit in, April 6 movement, Kefaya, members of the ultras, presidency candidate like Abol Fotoh, Khaled Ali, Sabahy and of course the independent youth groups and ordinary people were present in the sit in all together against military rule.

3- Yes the presence of a big number of bearded men can't be neglected but insisting on calling this ( a sit in by radical ultra conservatives or supporters of Hazem Salah) in every single news piece is complete nonsense!

There are many Islamist groups that are revolutionaries at the same time and just because you hate Islamists in general and you don't think they have the right to voice their opinions peacefully you can't simply neglect the fact they do exist or like it when they get cracked down upon.

4- The atmosphere in the sit in was really nice, well organized and open to everyone.

5- The weapons used were: machine guns, birdshots, tear gas made in the U.S, molotov cocktails, live ammunition and many more.

6- The number of deaths according to field hospital doctors and eyewitness accounts for all the attacks is more than 40 and the number of injuries is more than 200 but the reports in the news and ministry of health are lowering the number. 

7- The military and police forces presence is huge in front of the ministry of defense but they kept watching as people got slaughtered in front of them in addition to aiding thugs and providing them with tear gas and weapons.  

8- There's a complete media bleakout while all of these things were going on and afterwards they came out very inaccurate and biased.

Day after day my believe in the bias of western media becomes firmer and firmer and the hypocrisy of celebrity citizen journalists and activists who don't mind people of different ideologies getting slaughtered without saying a word.

The reports are most of the time very overdue, false, inaccurate, biased and lack professionalism. It was all in my hood and I found out that people I know got killed that's why I'm more frustrated.

9- Amr El Desouky, A young man from our neighborhood and a family friend was shot today on his way to the mosque and then died.
It was all by the hands of the people in the neighborhood because he was mistaken for a "Salafi ultra conservative supporter of Abu Islamil" and they thought he's helping the revolutionaries against his neighborhood. 

Nobody talked about Amr because he's not famous and he is bearded. 


More at The Real News


More at The Real News


Anonymous said...

I am so sorry for you and your people. I traveled to Egypt and have many good memories there. Please know many people here in USA and other places are behind you! Praying for peace for you and all people!!!

Anonymous said...

You are right in believing that our media is biased. Here there were few news reports of the 99% protests. If it were not for social media, most Americans would not have known that they were occurring, except for the occasional report of traffic difficulties. Many of us watch the BBC or Al Jazera for a more accurate and global perspective. Blessings to you and your people. Sabina

Angela Werneke said...

Sadly, the U.S. mainstream media neglects to cover what is really happening but we have good independent media, such as Democracy Now! covering the struggles for self-determination and human rights in the Middle East. Sharif Abdel Kouddous, a native of Cairo and producer for Democracy Now! in New York was on the ground in Cairo during the first weeks of the Egyptian revolution, reporting daily to U.S. listeners. My heart and prayers are with you all as you continue your efforts for positive change.

Anonymous said...

Most of what you write are lies; you failed to mention the presence of Jihadist Salafis, the killing by the peaceful protestors of Abasiya residents; the welcome Zawahiri's borther received with chants of Jihad, the masked 'revolutionary' gunmen firing automatic weapons from speeding cars on the residents of the area. Your article has more BS than substance.

SmithSofia said...

She is NOT lying! I've barely slept for 2 days! You want to question the video evidence? The pictures? The personal accounts that are too numerous to count? The accounts from the field hospitals? The fact that today even the Field Hospital was violently attacked and both injuried and doctors were beaten and detained? Did you miss the violence of the thugs towards protestors in the first few days until today? Did you miss the live fire, bird shot, teargas that was used over the past 4 days? Did you miss all of that? I guess you have a very very selective memory Anonymous commenter!

Kenneth said...

Correct me if I'm wrong but the videos appear to express that practically all media was proving biased and negligent. Not just Western, but local media. (Am I missing that "Western Media" is meant to include Western style Egyptian media?) I've seen it before but I remain shocked that because the protesters were less identifiable by the public at large, their protesting was betrayed as if a triviality. I know I'm simplifying, but this is clear: shameful journalism.

Also, I never realized that there was that much diversity between various religious groups in Egypt. Conservative Muslims I never even pondered might in fact be an oppressed minority group, which this shows them as being. I still have much to learn to better understand Egypt's ongoing struggles.

Still, I can say that this is EXACTLY the situation Freedom of Religion is meant to defend. It's about guarding that everyone, bearded or not, is free from such oppression. In effect, it may be called a freedom but in reality it means others are NOT free to do such things. That's truly sad, no one should be targeted because of their beliefs. That there is no process for recourse is beyond unacceptable.

Regarding the terrible situation in general though, I can't help but feel these hostile situations consistently begin to slide downhill only after petty violent outrage from members of the crowd itself are used as an excuse to launch an assault. Rock throwing, even just destructive vandalism, those actions consistently seem to prelude the eruption of chaos. Peaceful gatherings are a foundation of organized protest, but I truly believe they only prove useful when true non-violence can be maintained. Violence ruins everything.

As Occupiers might put it, I think an important question is this: how do you de-escalate the small minority of violent protesters who are inciting violent escalations?