The Battle for Cairo

Following three days of peaceful mass protest, which ended in as many as eight million marching across Egypt and President Mubarak announcing he would not stand for re-election in September, Wednesday 2 February became the defining day for the Egyptian revolution.

Thousands of pro-Mubarak supporters massed outside the heavily defended state television centre. All the video I shot of the pro-demonstration was taken from the bridge due to the hostility of the crowd.

When we arrived there I was grabbed by one armed supporter, who tried to force me to pray to Allah. When I refused he accused me of being Israeli. This drew the attention of other supporters around him and it looked like I was about to be lynched, so we made a swift exit.

And it wasn’t long before the pro-Mubarak supporters were lynching people. As their march reached our hotel we tried to exit to start filming. Within seconds a group of 20 protestors started attacking a small group of women. One woman started running for the hotel door. We were pulled inside by the door security and they locked the door. We saw the woman’s screaming face smash into the glass. Arms and legs lashed out at her and she went down. The punches and kicks continued. The image of her terrified face is something I will never forget.

That incident also led to the initial coverage of this event from the hotel room with a barricaded door, as the area surrounding the hotel was swarming with thousands of Mubarak supporters. And we had already been pointed out as anti-Mubarak at the beginning of the protest, by a gang of what we believed were plain clothes police.

After several hours of fighting the pro-Mubarak protestors were pushed back and the Tahrir Square protestors quickly erected barricades. By nightfall elements, now known to be police, in the pro protestors opened fire with automatic rifles. The all too familiar crackle of AK-47 rounds sounded just 200 metres down the road as the battle went on into the night. More than a thousand were injured. Seven people were beleived to have been killed, all by gunfire.

720X576 16/9 Anamorphic 25fps footage © Jason N. Parkinson


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