Extraordinary security measures ahead of 25 January anniversary

Dozens of military tanks that bore the mark of Citizens Security Forces lined up in Tahrir Square Friday night, a familiar scene for many Egyptians.

The scene however is slightly different this time since it started a few days ahead of the fifth anniversary of the 25 January Revolution in 2011. Tanks appeared in the city for the first time since intense clashes between protestors and police forces during the third day of the Revolution in 2011.

Military spokesperson Colonel Mohamed Samir said there are several security patrols and checkpoints in Tahrir Square and its entries. The decision to increase the regulation of movement  in the city was made jointly with the Ministry of Interior in order to safeguard vital facilities from outlaws and rioters, according to Samir.

The security measures have been extended to border cities in particular and other cities across Egypt. There have been no protests  so far.

The military intervention in the political scene was initially welcomed in 2011 since they were thought to hold disinterested position and thus able to mediate between policemen and protestors. The military ended the clashes between the parties.

The increased security measures jointly made with police raised divisive concerns from political activists and social media users.

The hashtag #DownwiththeRegime became trendy on twitter, where many users tweeted against the current regime, including many Muslim Brotherhood supporters who called for retaliation against the regime.

The 6 April Movement commented on the measures on its Facebook page, stating that those “ who are on the right track will never fear protests”.

The Cairo Metro Company reportedly plans to partially close the Sadat station located in Tahrir square, in case any unrest took place.

The exit into Tahrir square from the Sadat station has been closed for two years, following riots that accompanied the dispersal of Muslim Brotherhood sit-ins in Cairo.

Meanwhile, Minister of Justice Ahmed El-Zend said the names of secret members allegedly affiliated to the Brotherhood currently working in high governmental positions will be announced in a press conference Sunday.

The conference, which will be held by head of judicial committee to freeze Brotherhood assets, Ezzat Khamis, will also declare a list of numerous decisions jointly made between the Brotherhood’s guidance office and the cabinet.

Some hospitals announced emergency status in a bid to contain casualties of potential clashes.  Minister of Health Under-Secretary in Fayoum Maher Al-Geyoshy announced in a meeting Saturday that a state of emergency is in effect in all the hospitals located in Fayoum governorate for the next week.

16 citizens were killed, 38 others injured, and at least 150 were arrested across different governorates on the fourth anniversary, according to official health ministry spokesperson at the time.

Al-Geyoshy also ordered hospitals to ordered that preparations be made to ensure sufficient medicines and emergency supplies be ready to deal with potential casualties. He further denied vacation to doctors and nurses due to the importance of their presence in the hospitals throughout this week.

Days before the anniversary, police forces continue to arrest political activists in anticipation of mass protests and gatherings.

The security forces arrested and sent six people to the prosecution on Saturday in Qena for allegedly belonging to the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood group, calling for mass protests, and inciting violence on the upcoming 25 January.

A week earlier, the security forces arrested the head of the Freedoms Committee at the Doctors’ Syndicate, Taher Mokhtar, activist and NGO worker Ahmed Hassan, and student Hossam Hamad. All three were arrested from their house in the Al-Falaki area of downtown Cairo, accused of “possessing leaflets calling for the fall of the regime”, according to the Association of Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE).

source: Daily News Egypt

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