EGYPT: Women in Cairo talk fear, unrest & who’s to blame

Manar Ammar – WNN Breaking

Cairo graffiti
Graffiti on the streets of Cairo by artist Naizer shows the psychological tension in the city as it depicts a War-Fear-Peace meter. Notice the meter is pointing more toward the Peace side. Image: Darla Hueske

(WNN) Cairo, EGYPT, NORTHERN AFRICA: Violence spread across Egypt again on Friday as hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood supporters clashed with police in what they dubbed as the “Friday of Anger.” That anger stems from the death of over 600 people on Wednesday after the military forcibly removed Brotherhood protesters from a sit-in in a northern Cairo neighborhood.

Egypt’s police announced the arrest of what they have termed some 820 ‘militant protesters’, including some 263 people in Ramsis Square, the main transit area for trains and buses in the capital city of Cairo on Friday, as large demonstrations by pro-Morsi supporters turned bloody after clashes with police left dozens dead. Images of bodies at a nearby mosque have now struck more fear in Egyptians’ minds.

Violence returned to Cairo on Friday as a month-long curfew went into place for the third consecutive day.

Armed citizens joined security forces in defending their neighborhood from attacks by the protesters, and bloody clashes were reported in locations across the country. Armed protesters were reported attempting to break into Tahrir Square, the iconic spark of the 2011 revolution, but were stopped after clashing with police.

In fear over the spreading violence, Egyptians are ‘staying put’ at home.

“We are keeping our homes locked with an iron gate all day, even before the curfew,” a retired mother of two named Tahany, who declined to give a last name, told WNN. Tahany lives in the upscale neighborhood of Zamalek, and she gets her daily purchases and food delivered by phone to her home.

“We heard gunshots earlier today when Morsi backers were on top of the bridge near from here in what seemed to be gunshots and loud noises,” she continued.

In a stark contrast the Egyptian streets were bare and empty by Friday night as residents and citizens feared more violence. On Thursday night and during the curfew, Cairo turned into a ghost town, and again on Friday, the streets ran red once again with blood, as angry protesters launched another series of attacks on government institutions. In addition to the clashes and destruction of the Rabaa Al-Adawiya mosque in Cairo, over 35 Churches and dozens of Christian businesses, homes and schools have been attacked, some burned to the ground in retaliation.

Violence is growing as people warn each other to “stay home” and make sure their loved ones are safe.

Many families are trying to secure their homes with iron gates, and patrolling the street during the day. Military tanks remain positioned in the streets.

Despite the Ministry of Interior warning citizens not to take up arms to defend their homes and to let the security forces handle it, some areas like the busy residential area of Shubra have formed neighborhood watches or ‘local committees’ before the ‘from-dusk-to-dawn’ curfew was enforced today. For those on the street, searches of anyone coming through is commonplace in a country on high alert for violence.

Right now on the streets in Cairo a peaceful exit to the crisis seems distant.

With Egyptians polarized over who is to blame, each side refuses to hear the other.

There are worries that this impasse could continue unabated.

“[The] Majority of people are either in a state of anticipation and complete support of the military, or saddened by the death of many people and feeling uncertain about what is taking place,” Asmaa Youssef, a photographer and a participant of the January 2011 revolution, told WNN.

“If we stay like this violence will not end, unless everyone in the street is dead or in jail,” Youssef said, hinting at the rise in hopelessness that is becoming a characteristic of the Egyptian psyche at the moment.

Youssef sees little chances for reconciliation unless the Egyptian media “stops being bias.”

“For peace to have a chance the media must commit to reporting unbiased news. They play a big role in dividing people, the same cheap tactics as in the Mubarak era,” added Youssef.

The Egyptian media itself is becoming part of the problem, as the majority of the more liberal media supports the army, and the Islamic owned media support the Brotherhood. Moderate voices asking for calm, are being ignored and accused of being soft “in the face of terrorism,” as the state engages in a war taking place in the heart of Egyptian cities.

“If the Islamists agree to go back to a negotiation talks, the situation could be resolved, other than that the circle of violence will spread, and we all will be caught in it,” Nermeen Yousri told WNN. Yousri is a research assistant at the Cancer Biology Research Lab of Cairo University, and herself a human rights advocate.

“The only hope for peace is a political resolution, not a security one. Both sides are now armed and violence breeds violence, not resolves it.” Yousri added.

For now, it is a waiting game as security forces attempt to secure the streets. Numerous Egyptians anticipate more bloodshed as they remain holed up in their homes, in contrast to the culture of togetherness over a month ago when millions took to the street in a common cause to remove former President Mohamed Morsi. The deafening silence of the curfew, contrasting the earlier echoing bullets, has shown just how frightening the recent unrest is becoming.


Cairo journalist Ethar El-Katatney paints a disturbing picture of the deadly unrest in Egypt. This 11:29 min August 16, 2013 video is a production of ABC News 24, Australia’s only free-to-air continuous news channel.


Native of Cairo and news correspondent for WNN – Women News Network, Manar Ammar reports on human rights and social justice issues facing women in Egypt today. In addition to working for WNN, Ammar is Co-founder and women’s desk editor and reporter for Bikyanews, reporting the news on the MENA region, and beyond.


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