Third Anniversary of January 25 Marred by Violence

January 25, 2014 . By

Today marked the three-year anniversary of the January 25 protests in Tahrir Square that ultimately led to the resignation of former President Hosni Mubarak after 18 days of demonstrations. Deaths marred protests in Alexandria, Cairo, Giza, and Minya, with some of the worst violence taking place in Alf Maskan and Al-Matarya in Ain Shams in eastern Cairo. Demonstrations that saw state or civilian violence were generally reported to be showing opposition to the current government in some fashion; demonstrations marking the anniversary and showing support for the current government appeared to go largely safely except when they encountered those protesting the government.

Clashes began around noon today as marches formed at numerous mosques throughout Cairo—many of which were dispersed by police forces.

Spikes in violence occurred later in Alf Maskan, Matareya, and Talaat Harb Square in Cairo.

The Ministry of Health reported that 49 protesters were killed today in Alexandria, Cairo, Giza, and Minya. The Ministry also indicated that protestors were injured in Fayoum, Ismailia, Asyut, and Beni Suef.

The Nadeem Center, an NGO focused on victims of violence, reportedly released the names of 53 individuals killed, 20 in Alf Maskan and 24 in Matareya. A total of 28 people were reportedly killed by live ammunition. Spokesman Hesham Abdel Hamid of the Forensic Medicine Authority later stated that 62 individuals in Cairo and Giza died from bullet wounds.

Thousands marked the anniversary in largely peaceful demonstrations in Tahrir Square itself, where the prevailing mood was one of support for the government and for Defense Minister Abdul-Fattah al-Sisi, who is widely considered to have the Presidency in his grasp should he decide to run. Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim had earlier encouraged Egyptians to gather in the Square to mark the anniversary, as had a range of political parties.

One march protesting the current government started at the Journalists Syndicate in Cairo and was reportedly broken up by security forces driving through the crowd. Security forces also fired birdshot and teargas. The march, which set off for Tahrir Square, ended in clashes with pro-government demonstrators at Talaat Harb Square. A separate protest was dispersed at the nearby High Court.

Two marches that began at Mostafa Mahmoud Mosque were dispersed by police firing tear gas and birdshot. The intended destination for both marches was Tahrir Square. The first march was led by the “Way of the Revolution Front,” which is reportedly against both “the Brotherhood and the military,” while the other was apparently one of the numerous marches for today announced by the Muslim Brotherhood.

Later today, the Anti-Coup Alliance called for an escalation of “the current revolutionary wave” using “creative peaceful resistance” to “regain the revolution.” The related Students Against the Coup group issued its own statement condemning the death of Cairo University student Ahmed al-Douh, who was killed earlier while demonstrating and taking pictures. The group claimed that nine students had been killed and a further nine had been arrested.

The Ministry of the Interior stated that 1,079 people nationwide were arrested. Daily News Egypt reported that 57 would be detained for 15 days after being arrested outside Mostafa Mahmoud mosque, while no details were released for another 60 arrested there. There were at least 20 arrests during a march in Maadi, and another 79 have been held for protests occurring in downtown Cairo. Interrogations for those arrested were reported as ongoing in police stations. Among those arrested was noted activist Nazly Hussein, who was apprehended along with five others while heading for a demonstration in Maadi. They, along with reportedly all detainees today, were initially held on suspicion of “belonging to a terrorist group,” understood to be a reference to the Muslim Brotherhood, and “incitement against the army and police.” They were also considered to be in violation of the recently-passed protest law.

Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis later claimed responsibility for today’s downing of a military helicopter in North Sinai. The group, which draws inspiration from Al-Qaeda, also claimed responsibility for  the shooting of a soldier in Al-Kharouba, the mortar bombardment of the Al-Zohour camp, and attacks on the military near Jura International Airport. The group also retracted claims of responsibility for two of the smaller bomb attacks yesterday in Cairo, indicating that another entity—Agnad Masr—committed the acts.

In Suez, a car bomb exploded outside the Central Security Forces camp, injuring 16. No group immediately claimed responsibility.