Egypt Independent

Protesters say vendors were paid to start Tahrir clashes



About a dozen people were injured in clashes in Tahrir Square on Sunday evening between street vendors and the families of those killed in the Egyptian uprising, with eyewitnesses claiming that some street vendors had admitted to being paid to start trouble in the square.

According to protesters in the square at the time, vendors had taken money from an unknown source in order to stay in Tahrir and provoke unrest, with some suspecting a plain clothes police officer of being involved.

“I captured two vendors who admitted that they took 50 pounds today to stay in Tahrir and fake a fight,” says Islam Nour al-Din, 30, who teachers at Ain Shams University, and who has been staying in Tahrir since last week to support the families of those killed in the uprising.

He said that a low-ranking policeman entered the square in plain clothes on Saturday and stood for a while watching the protesters, and then hung around with some of the vendors. However, some protesters supporting the families recognized the police officer's face and chased him from the square.

On Sunday evening, vendors attacked the protesters using knives and rocks and set fire to some of the tents using gas cylinders, in a confrontation that was apparently sparked by the attempts of protesters to keep the vendors away from the familes living in tents.

“We didn’t want them to stay with us in the square because they look like thugs and when they appear on TV, people say we are thugs,” said Galal Faisal, whose brother died in the 18-day uprising.

Faisal said that on Sunday afternoon the families moved their tents from the middle of the square to the garden in front of the Mugamma government building in order to keep a distance from the vendors. However, one of the vendors insisted on coming over and standing next to them.

“We beat him to prevent him from entering the area we were staying in, and so he left, bringing back with him all the other vendors, who then attacked us,” said Faisal.

Protesters succeeded in pushing the vendors out of the square after fierce fighting that continued for almost half an hour. The families and the protesters supporting them have vowed to continue their sit-in until their demands for transparent justice have been met.

“We have a noble cause and we will not leave, despite all their attempts to divide us,” said Abdel Naser Ahmed, a protester whose wife was injured in the clashes.

Meanwhile, the familes of the victims of the uprising chanted, “We will not leave,” asserting their defiant stance.

Several familes of those killed in the uprising have been protesting in front of the state television building in Maspero and also in Tahrir Square since last week, demanding transparent and timely trials for those accused of murdering demonstrators.

Clashes between the families and Central Security Forces last week left more than 1000 injured.

Activist groups have called for an open-ended sit-in until the demands of the revolution have been achieved, starting Friday July 8, with support gaining momentum on social networking websites.