Cairo: 'You Can't Imagine the Smell of Tear Gas; People Are Dying'
CAIRO, Egypt, Nov. 21 -- Crowds surged in even greater numbers tonight ahead of mass demonstrations tomorrow. It's hoped that a million people will fill the streets, sending the unmistakable message that Egypt will not stand to be ruled by an unaccountable military.
In response, the government forces appeared even more aggressive tonight -- and the crowd even more powerful. Many are saying that this is the last stand of the military and now a civilian transition is required. What that looks like is not clear, but a consensus is certainly forming: The revolutionary youth, political representatives, and civil society must lead the way for this new structure to take shape.
You can't imagine the smell of gas, the feeling of it in your eyes forcing an uncontrollable watering and stinging. Down the smaller streets where some of the hospitals are located, the air is unbearable and the ambulances are full of tear gas. People are being ferried through the crowds -- and some of them are dying on the way. People are being shot at, at eye level. It's reported there have been 33 deaths and 1,300 injured.
It's a different story in the middle of the Square. There are food sellers of every type tonight -- tea and coffee makers, fruits for sale on stalls, and every strength of cigarette. What is also more prevalent are the new gas masks, the protective goggles, and the scarves to keep out the stench.
And amidst this -- the Cabinet has quit, but the implications or the acceptance of this is not clear. Essam Sharaf tended his and the Cabinet's resignation, but no one is certain what this means for the elections next week. The Military are going to need to make some serious sacrifices. The protesters will be impossible to placate without a transition in line with the promise of the revolution in January, and now is the time to make that happen.
If you haven't done so already, please sign the petition calling on the SCAF to stop ruling by emergency law, release Alaa Abd El Fattah (a prominent Egyptian activist and RightsCon speaker), and stop trying civilians in military courts. Sign the campaign in English here or in Arabic here.