Egyptian Protests Day 3: Next Steps

Amid the third day of protests in Egypt, casualties and detentions are increasing: Today the brunt seems to be in the Suez region where Twitter reports indicate live ammo is being used by security forces.

Detentions over the three days now top over 1,000, according to Egyptian activists groups.  The arrested and injured include reporters both for Egyptian and Western media.

The Mubarak regime is still talking as strongly as it did three days ago, but among the activists in the Egyptian street there is one key consensus: The fear is gone.

There have been large demonstrations in Egypt before.  This was not the Muslim Brothers, despite the government’s efforts to strike fear in the West by blaming the protests on them.  This was not labor, nor the lawyers guild nor college students, though all have been active.

This was a protest that crossed class, ideology and religion, and that is what scares the government, so long used to successfully playing divide and conquer among the opposition groups. “The psychological barrier of fear has been broken,”  Shadi Hamid, director of research for the Brookings Doha Center told the Washington Post, a comment repeated by several others. “Eighty million Egyptians saw [Tuesday's protests]. They saw that it’s okay to come out and that there is safety in numbers.”

For human rights activists, there are immediate and long-term issues to address.  The first is to renew Amnesty’s call Tuesday for the government to stop the crackdown on protesters and to end reckless responses by police and security officials.

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Egypt Must Stop Crackdown on Protesters

The crackdown on protesters in Egypt continues for a second day today as Egyptians flock to the streets to speak out against poverty, police abuse and corruption.

Today’s demonstrations follow a day of protest in Cairo, Alexandria and other major cities that saw at least three deaths, rubber bullets and tear gas employed against crowds, beatings of detainees and at least 500 protesters arrested.

Security forces forcibly dispersed demonstrators and detained at least 500 © Demotix / Nour El Refai

As the government’s crackdown intensifies, Amnesty International continues to call on Egyptian authorities to refrain from using excessive force against demonstrators.  Security forces must be held in check.

“We witnessed reckless policing yesterday with the security forces relying on tear gas and using rubber bullet as a first resort” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa Programme.

Demonstrations yesterday started peacefully but stone throwing and scuffles broke out when the security forces started forcibly dispersing demonstrators.

Three demonstrators were reportedly killed as well as one policeman in the largest demonstrations that Egypt has seen in decades.

The Ministry of Interior issued a warning that protests today will not be tolerated and those arrested will be prosecuted.

We fear that the Ministry’s warning signals the authorities’ readiness to unleash the full ferocity of the security forces with their track record of abuses.

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