Postcards from Egypt: Cairo Clashes Aren’t As Reported

CAIRO — Here’s an update of what’s happening in Egypt right now. Fresh clashes between protesters and the government have been going on for five days. Most of the news that the government is letting out is portraying the protesters as instigators of all the chaos.

That is absolutely not the truth. I, personally, was in Tahrir Square – alone – less than two weeks ago and the protesters were playing football (soccer) and socializing. They weren’t even actively chanting anything but just “hanging out” to let their presence be felt..


What we have heard from news reports here is that this started about a week ago when a woman brought the protesters camped out in front of the ministry building some food. The food was poisoned and over forty people were sickened by it. This is an echo of the first days of the revolution last January as the government tried to deliver KFC chicken that was actually poisoned to the protesters in Tahrir Square. A few days later an officer dressed in civilian clothes was going through the protesters trying to get names and information and the people there “arrested” him. The soldiers retaliated by allowing one of the protesters to come in to fetch a soccer ball that had gone into the parliament area and when he entered, they shut the doors and beat him.

In the days following it has gotten worse and worse, with the soldiers burning not only the tents of the people who were camping out there, but also the tents that were makeshift hospitals for the doctors that were treating the injured. The military said they wanted everyone to go to state hospitals, where of course they would end up being arrested. Women have been attacked, stripped and some even claim that they were submitted to “virginity checks”, which is a known tactic used during the Mubarak regime. Autopsies performed so far show that nine of the thirteen protesters that have died have died from gunshot wounds, even though the military denies that they are firing live rounds at people. Even though pictures and video’s being circulated by those there prove the opposite is actually true.

The media is claiming that the protesters started the fire in the Science building and that the fire trucks were not allowed on the scene until it was too late to put out the fire. However the police have been using a water cannon on the protesters for 4 days that was sitting right next to the building and yet they didn’t even try to put the fire out, and many of the protesters in fact were going into the building trying to bring out books and computers before they burned and they are using those pictures as proof that they started the fire. Why would they start a fire and then go into the burning building to salvage items so they didn’t burn? In reality, if the protesters really wanted to create chaos they would have set fire to the Tahrir building that still is basically unprotected and is home to at least 6 different Ministries.

I spoke to a friend of mine this morning who is also an American married to an Egyptian man and lives here in Cairo. She described her trip yesterday to the Tahrir Building where she had to go to get her visa renewed. When I asked her how it was there, she said, “It was calm until the Army shot someone. Then everyone ran to help the guy. I have no idea why the Army is lying about what is going on there, but I saw with my own eyes that the Army attacked the people for no reason.”

I replied that, “Yes, they have everyone believing the protesters are to blame and they are not doing anything but protecting themselves,” and she said in return, “My father-in-law believed it, too. But when he found out that the Army is dressed in civilian clothes, we saw this with our own eyes because we know some of the soldiers by face inside of the immigration building, and causing problems, he no longer believes the Army is innocent. I may not be Egyptian by nationality or blood, by my heart bleeds for Egypt. I almost cried yesterday because of seeing what the people are having to go through. As an American, I never realized until I came here, how much we take our freedoms for granted. The people in Tahrir aren’t doing anything. It even appeared that the man we saw shot yesterday, might have been shot by a sniper. I saw men yelling and point to the top of a building in Tahrir square

What is happening here is the same tactics used by the former regime, and many feel that nothing has really changed since the revolution began. I have included a link that is being shared on Facebook.com to help support Egypt globally. http://menasolidaritynetwork.com/2011/12/18/occupycabinetsolidarity/

If you’re unable to attend any of these events, please keep Egypt in your prayers. Pray for the entire country, not just the protesters or just the police, but everyone involved. It is heart wrenching to see Egyptians killing their own brothers. But it takes great sacrifice to gain true freedom. Never take freedom for granted, because when you do, you sometimes lose it.

Note from Doni: Robyn found the photos on Facebook, and doesn’t know the photographers’ names. As an aside, when I asked why all the photos showed women being attacked, Robyn said there were many more photos of male victims, but they were so graphic that she didn’t submit them. On a final note, Robyn said she saw film footage of the attack on the young women in the blue bra. She said the woman was stomped on and appeared to have suffered broken ribs, at the very least. We at anewscafe.com thank Robyn Payne for her courage and willingness to report the news events she’s witnessing in her home of Egypt. We hold her in our thoughts with hopes that she and her family and the good people of Egypt will remain safe.

Robyn Payne (aka Asmaa Ahmed) was born in Weaverville, California, and was raised in Mountain Gate. She graduated from Central Valley High School in 1988 and has lived all over the country since then, but always ended up back in Redding. A year ago she left Redding once again and now lives in Ain Helwan, Egypt, just south of Cairo, with her Egyptian husband and his family. She’s always enjoyed writing stories and poems and is a “just for fun” photographer

A News Cafe, founded in Shasta County by Redding, CA journalist Doni Greenberg, is the place for people craving local Northern California news, commentary, food, arts and entertainment. Views and opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of anewscafe.com.

Robyn Payne

Robyn (Asmaa) Payne was born in Weaverville, California and was raised in Mountain Gate where her family still lives. She graduated from C.V.H.S. in 1988 and has lived all over the country since then but always ended up back in Redding. In October of 2011 she left Redding once again and now lives in Cairo, Egypt, with her Egyptian husband and step son. She loves to write and is looking forward to sharing more of her new country and the people and places she loves here.

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