(Photo: Reuters/Amr Abdallah Dalsh)
Egypt entered its fifth day of clashes Tuesday as military forces attempt to quell the efforts of protesters, who have gathered in Tahrir Square to push for a new government.
The clashes began Friday when a small sit-in of protesters clashed with military forces. At least a dozen people have been killed and over hundreds injured since the clashes began.
Soldiers entered Tahrir Square Tuesday in an attempt to disperse the crowds. Soldiers lobbed tear gas canisters while protesters hurled rocks.
Protests flock to Tahrir Square because, 10 months ago, thousands gathered there to push for the ousting of oppressive President Hosni Mubarak, at the start of the Arab Spring uprisings.
This past weekend’s protests carry the same purpose, which is to oust the current military interim government and insert a more democratic leadership.
The clashes have occurred in synch with the country’s second round of parliamentary elections, which commenced Monday. Islamic political parties the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafi Al Nour are expected to hold the most seats in parliament, as they have dominated seats in both rounds of elections.
The Muslim Brotherhood, which won the second round of elections with 39 percent of the vote, has often carried on friendly relations with the ruling military regime, causing democratic hopefuls to fear a continued oppressive government.
The Brotherhood shifted gear Sunday, with Brotherhood party member Mohamed Beltagy condemning the aggressive behavior of the military.
“[The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces] tries to create new crises as the time for power transfer to an elected civilian government gets closer,” Beltagy said in a statement Sunday.
Although the military defends its aggressive tactics by claiming self-defense against protesters, one YouTube video has the Western world concerned for the treatment of the civilians. It shows soldiers dragging and uncovering a robed female protester, then repeatedly hitting and kicking her while she is on the ground.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemned the military’s use of force in a speech Monday.
“This systematic degradation of Egyptian women dishonors the revolution, disgraces the state and its uniform, and is not worthy of a great people,” Clinton said.
Military Gen. Adel Emara blamed the protesters for the violence in a news conference Monday. Emara claims protesters provoked the military and defaced government property in an attempt “to destroy the state.”
“The armed forces and the police pledged not to use violence against protesters actively or even verbally,” Emara said.
Emara went on to say that Egypt’s strength relies on the “heroes of the armed forces.”
Protesters argue that Emara’s speech proves the military’s intention to stay highly involved with the country’s governmental affairs once it steps down from power.