CAIRO: As the press rushed to encircle the newest big name to grace what had been an uneventful demonstration, the plainclothes policeman close by asked a reporter who the man was.
“Saad Eddin Ibrahim, the reporter answered the boy.
The plainclothes policeman went back to the line that had been drawn up in order to block anyone’s entrance near the police station and told the general nearby whom that man was.
Ibrahim, a democracy advocate and head of the Ibn Khaldun Center for Human Rights, expressed his solidarity for the opposition movement, saying that the overwhelming police presence demonstrates the government’s last straw left of power.
“They do not admit to anything, Ibrahim tells reporters. “You think they would want to admit that to their henchmen, he continues, referring to the alleged torture and sexual assault reported last week and what yesterday’s demonstration was supposed to be about.
Asked why demonstrations are a useful tool, Ibrahim said that it is about the government’s dismissal of the public.
“[The government] is no longer concerned with public opinion, neither domestically or internationally, he continues. “It is in my opinion that it [the government] is in its final stages of power and is consequently behaving in this sad way.
The demonstration, organized by human rights groups and the older activist generation, was seen by the usual activists as a timely thing that needed to be done.
“It’s about time they got out and did something like this, says Bassem Khalifa, an activist, commending the older generation for showing persistence and a zeal to continue dissent.
While the demonstration did not manifest itself as had been hoped by some activists, there were still the arrests that have marked demonstrations in Egypt over the past few months.
According to Leila Soueif, mother of Alaa, the blogger currently being held, there were three arrests made.
“Nothing has really happened except the [police] came and arrested three people when we began our demonstration by the hotel, Soueif says, referring to the Four Seasons hotel in Garden City.
Emad Mubarak, Ayman Ayad and Adel El Mushad were arrested as the group of about 50 demonstrators began to march toward the Kasr El Nil police station. They were later released, according to activists’ reports.
“There were about 50 of us as we began to march toward the police station when they took and arrested three of us, Ragia Showki, head of the Nadim Center for Torture, says. “That is when we broke off and headed our separate ways and some of us came here to see what is going on here.
Also being reported was the detention of an LA Times reporter. According to Khalifa, he was held for 15 minutes and had his camera smashed before they allowed him to leave.
Directly in front of the police station a group of approximately 20 foreign journalists stood in defiance as police attempted to move them away.
A security official who declined to give his name said that there were no permits for people to be present.
“There’s no permit for a protest today for the demonstrators. There is no permit for the coverage by reporters, the security official says.
Although no journalists were roughed up in front of the police station, they were cordoned off by plainclothes policemen who then formed an impenetrable line guarding the entrance to the station.
“As you see, they arrested three. That’s fine. What is important is that they felt that the people are taking a stand and that they have come despite all the barriers that were put in place at a distance of 2 kilometers, Ibrahim says, before they were released.