Fears of anarchy and looting linger as new day dawns in Egypt
Posted by Xeno on January 30, 2011
Fires burn in the National Democratic Party ruling party headquarters, after it was set alight by anti-government protesters, in downtown Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Jan. 28, 2011. – via washpost
Fear of anarchy and looting lingered in Egypt on Sunday, with many streets in the nation’s capital left without security after police stopped patrolling.
“It seems that every major square and every small street in Cairo was basically taken over by communities … people are parading the streets, walking around with baseball bats and knives,” said Ahmed Rehab of the Council on American Islamic Relations from Cairo. “We didn’t get any sleep all night.”
As President Hosni Mubarak clung to power and tried to redeem his 30-year rule, the world’s attention fell on central Cairo, where the army was deployed to replace police forces that clashed brutally with demonstrators.
Tanks and troops continued to stand guard in the streets Sunday morning, but it was unclear how large protests would be.
The powerful Egyptian army, deployed to the streets for the first time since the mid-1980s, is much more respected than the police, and many protesters have embraced their presence. But whether the 450,000-strong armed forces will remain loyal to Mubarak is key for the nation’s future. …
dozens of would-be thieves started entering the grounds surrounding the museum, climbing over the metal fence or jumping inside from trees lining the sidewalk outside.One man pleaded with people outside the museum’s gates on Tahrir Square not to loot the building, shouting at the crowd: “We are not like Baghdad.” After the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, thieves carted off thousands of artifacts from the National Museum in Baghdad – only a fraction of which have been recovered.
Suddenly other young men – some armed with truncheons taken from the police – formed a human chain outside the main entrance in an attempt to protect the collection inside.
“I’m standing here to defend and to protect our national treasure,” said one of the men, Farid Saad, a 40-year-old engineer.
Another man, 26-year-old Ahmed Ibrahim, said it was important to guard the museum because it “has 5,000 years of our history. If they steal it, we’ll never find it again.”
Finally, four armored vehicles took up posts outside the massive coral-colored building in downtown Cairo. Soldiers surrounded the building and moved inside to protect mummies, monumental stone statues, ornate royal jewelry and other pharaonic artifacts.
The soldiers appeared to have rounded up all the would-be looters who made it onto the museum grounds …