Communications have been completely severed in Egypt on a day of mass protests all around the country. Unprecedented scenes have seen the regime blocking the Internet, mobile phones, and all messenger services. Vodafone Egypt has confirmed this saying that the government has ordered all mobile telephone operators to “suspend services.”
It appears that today is the day the Mubarak regime plan to crush the protests. However, protesters all around the country, from Cairo to Suez, seem to have passed the point of no return.
It has been very difficult keeping in contact with people in Egypt, my own main method since last night was to contact those on UK mobile phone networks, but it seems that even that is not working now.
There has been little in the way of condemnation from Western governments, in direct contrast to the reaction to the Green Movement in Iran.
With the strangling of the communication network it has been very difficult getting accurate news reports of what is going on, especially with foreign reporters banned from leaving their hotels. However, al-Jazeera has been able to continue reporting, despite a heavy government crackdown on them.
From their reports, and other sources, I have been able to piece together the following:
- Unconfirmed reports of a number of protesters being killed in clashes today.
- Protesters are marching on the ruling party, the NDP, headquarters. Reports that protesters have taken over the local headquarters in Ismailia and Mansoura. Reports also state that the central square in Suez is controlled by the protesters with no police presence.
- Some members of the security services have been detained for refusing to fire on the protesters.
- Mohamed el-Baradei, the opposition leader, and former head of the IAEA, was detained at the mosque that he was praying at, and prevented from joining the protests. He is now under house arrest. There are also reports that he was sprayed with a water cannon by the security services.
- Foreign news teams have been attacked by plain clothes police officers, and some have been arrested.
- Ahmed Mansour, one of the most well respected journalists in the Arab World, has been attacked by plain clothes police officers whilst trying to cover the demonstrations for al-Jazeera.
- Opposition leader, and former Presidential candidate, Ayman Nour, is reportedly in intensive care after being hit by rocks thrown by police.
Views expressed in articles are the author’s and do not represent Comment Middle East
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