Friday’s protests could be “the last straw” for exhausted police officers

exhausted police officers
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Three days after hunderds of thousands of Egyptians participated in nationwide protests, activists are hoping that their calls for another “Day of Anger” on Friday will attract even larger numbers--and, perhaps, lead to political change.

Over 70,000 Egyptians have confirmed--via social media--their intention to attend, while reform campaigner Mohamed ElBaradei is expected to arrive in Cairo on Thursday to take part in the protests. All political currents in Egypt have also confirmed their participation.

Ahmed Abd Rabbo, activist with the 6April protest movement, hopes that the success of Tuesday’s demonstrations will serve to motivate even more people to participate on Friday.
“Everyone went to the protests on Tuesday expecting to be the only ones there--nobody was sure that they would actually happen. Now, people have hope,” said Abd Rabbo.

Yasser al-Hawary, media coordinator for the Youth for Justice and Freedom protest movement, hopes that Friday’s demonstrations will be a catalyst for change. He pointed out that the number of protesters was increasing every day.

“We have been struggling for six years. They used to call us crazy, but now everybody is joining the struggle,” says al-Hawary.

Abd Rabbo believes that the situation in Egypt will be settled within a week, unlike in Tunisia where the uprising involved over a month of protests. He believes that Egypt’s much larger population will lead to faster results.

Abd Rabbo called the Governorate of Suez the “Sidi Bouzid of Egypt” in reference to the Tunisian city where the revolution started. He said that the successes achieved in Suez, where protesters set fire to a government building on Thursday, would encourage people all over Egypt to participate in Friday’s protests.

He went on to say that international support for the protests and the anticipated participation of ElBaradei would further encourage people to participate.

He also pointed out that protests were erupting spontaneously, which, he believes, is a main reason why they are likely to escalate into a Tunisia-like scenario.

After three days of continuous protests all over the country, Abd Rabbo said that Friday’s protests could be “the last straw” for exhausted police officers, who, he hopes, will end up joining the demonstrators.
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Al-Hawary says that police forces haven’t slept for three days, adding that he expected them to crack soon. “Some officers told us that if they could, they would’ve joined us,” he said.

Al-Hawary told Al-Masry Al-Youm that protesters were expecting police to resort to maximum violence to break tomorrow’s protests, including the possible use of live ammunition. He asserted that, if excessive violence was used, it spell the end of the regime.

For every protester that gets killed, a thousand more will hit the streets. 

Even if people were not planning to protest, they will join in if there are casualties,” said al-Hawary.
Abd Rabbo asserted that protesters were willing to sacrifice their lives in order to obtain their rights because they felt that they have nothing to lose.

Abd Rabbo quoted one citizen who told him: “I will go out on Friday and either come back with my children’s rights or come back flat on my back.” He added that this was a pervasive sentiment among protesters.

Al-Hawary said that protesters were not intimidated by police, who, he says, had been unable to control protesters on Tuesday due to their large numbers.

“We are not scared; we know there will be a confrontation between us and police, and we are betting on the people this time,” said al-Hawary.

Abd Rabo said that today was the last chance for the regime to address the people’s grievances and respond to their demands. He said that once casualties were reported tomorrow, people would not leave the streets until the fall of the regime.

As for fears of military intervention to stop the protests, Abd Rabbo said that this would be a last resort of the regime, adding that he hoped that the military would side with the protesters.
The military officers are trained to protect the country, so they could end up siding with the majority,” he said.

Abd Rabbo said that, due to security measures that might prevent Friday prayers in the nation’s mosques, the protests would likely begin in small streets until large groups were formed that would head to main city squares.

Al-Hawary is calling on all Egyptians to take part in the protests on Friday and urging people not to be afraid. He also urged Egyptians living abroad to protest in front of their respective embassies and pressure their host governments not to support the Mubarak regime.


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