by Mosaab ElShamy
Faced with repeated violent crackdowns by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, Egyptian revolutionaries took to the streets one year ago today to voice their protest in what is widely regarded as the revolution’s second phase. The Mohamed Mahmoud clashes were to become Cairo’s bloodiest week since January 25. The violent dispersal of injured protesters from Tahrir Square sparked week-long clashes that left almost 50 people dead, and was also a crucial turning point in finally pressuring a resistant SCAF to set a date for the presidential election.
Despite the lack of a number of political contenders, most notably the Muslim Brotherhood – who’s absence left significant cracks in the already fragile relationship within revolutionary factions- non-stop clashes took places in Mohamed Mahmoud Street, among other side streets surrounding Tahrir Square. While some secular forces suspended parliamentary campaigning during the clashes, the Muslim Brotherhood continued to prepare for the elections.
At the same time, huge protests continued to take place in Tahrir Square throughout the week, the carnival-like atmosphere at times standing in stark contrast with the violent battle being waged on the front lines of Mohamed Mahmoud Street.
Military strategies began to surface; telltales of their aim to weaken protesters determination. Most notable was the targeting of protesters eyes; Ahmed Harara, who had lost one of his eyes in the peak of the revolution- on 28 January, lost his other eye during the November clashes, and became an instant revolutionary icon.
As the clashes raged on, former Minister of Defense HusseinTantawi appeared on television for the first time since the revolution and set an official date for the presidential and parliamentary elections. Following his appearance, the protests gradually fizzled out.
Mosa’ab Elshamy is a freelance journalist based in Cairo covering news, events and current affairs. He has provided photos for numerous publications and websites.