Thursday, May 11, 2006

Protesters Clash With Police in Cairo.






Egyptian security forces beat activists and arrested journalists in Cairo on Thursday during protests in support of judges facing a disciplinary committee for criticizing election abuses last year.


Activists organized at least three separate demonstrations in central Cairo but in each case plainclothes security men moved in, beating and detaining selected protesters.
Thousands of riot police, armed with sticks and shields, sealed off main streets near the High Court, disrupting traffic in the heart of the capital.
The protesters gathered quietly around the corner from the court to escape the attention of security forces and then began chanting "Judges, judges, save us from the tyrants!"
They marched for some 15 minutes before teams of plainclothes security attacked the leaders, pulling them to the pavement and beating them with fists.
One activist was held against a wall and beaten until his face bled heavily. At least a dozen were arrested. Plainclothes policemen also detained at least six journalists covering the protest, a Reuters witness said.
They dragged away cameramen from news organizations including Reuters and Al Jazeera television and confiscated their cameras. An Al Jazeera cameraman was badly beaten.
Demonstrators dispersed when the security forces began their crackdown. Some managed to regroup to continue chanting.
The demonstrators included supporters of the opposition Muslim Brotherhood and secular activists. "Down, down with Hosni Mubarak," they chanted, in reference to Egypt's president.
Shops closed their shutters in Talaat Harb street, one of the downtown area's main streets, for fear of violence. Security sources said at least eight activists were arrested.
The authorities arrested dozens during a protest in support of the judges last month. They are still in prison.
The two judges, Mahmoud Mekky and Hesham Bastawisi, face charges of violating judiciary rules by talking on television about abuses in last year's elections.
They have also been prominent in a campaign by the informal Judges Club to obtain full financial and administrative independence from the Ministry of Justice.