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May 11, 2006

Mubarak 'Stomping On Democracy' As Egyptian Police Beat Pro-Democracy Marchers -

Topics: Middle East News and Perspectives

[2 Female protesters. One has the words "No to injustice" written in arabic on her hand, while the other has Free Egypt inscribed on hers. (Image - Egyptian Sandmonkey)

Thousands of Egyptian riot police beat pro-democracy activists today, chasing and dragging them through the streets to break up a demonstration in support of judges who blew the whistle on election fraud. The violence appears to signal a tough new zero tolerance stance by the government toward protests demanding reform and expressing discontent that President Hosni Mubarak has backed off promises of democratic change and has decided to 'stomp on democracy' instead.

Time reports that only 15 minutes into the demonstration, screams erupted and people began running in every direction in panic. State security had arrived, and before long it was clear that Egypt's authoritarian government still had the upper hand in its year-long struggle with democracy activists.

Roger Hardy writes at BBC News that Egypt's taste for reform has apparently "soured":

(BBC News) Local elections due in April were postponed for two years - almost certainly out of fear that the Muslim Brotherhood would repeat last year's success.

And now pro-democracy activists are showing their solidarity with two judges who have been critical of the well-documented flaws in the November elections.

All this appears to have rattled the authorities, who have reverted to their old habit of beating and arresting demonstrators.

Compared with its vigorous engagement last year, the Bush administration has been largely silent.

Mubarak is defending the decision to extend the emergency law that set off the protests, saying in comments published Wednesday that many democracies had tougher laws in place to fight terror.

On April 30, Egypt's parliament at Mubarak's request approved a two-year extension to emergency laws that have been in place since 1981, despite a growing chorus of criticism from opposition groups. The measures, instituted after the assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, give security forces broad powers to arrest and detain suspects.

And today we see how those "broad powers" are applied against citizens simply protesting what they believe to be injustices.

Egyptian Sandmonkey has images and additional commentary...

Posted by Richard at May 11, 2006 9:31 PM

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