Cairo — More than 1,000 people marched in Cairo’s Tahrir Square on Monday night ahead of larger protests planned Tuesday to condemn the violence perpetrated by Egyptian security forces.
The protesters attacked and defaced a monument that had been inaugurated just hours earlier by members of the Egyptian cabinet, who laid stones on it in a ceremony designed to symbolize a new start for Tahrir Square.
By nighttime, protesters had stormed the monument and removed its memorial plaque bearing the names of the ministers and replaced it with their own messages.
Egyptian engineers and the artists who designed the monument told BuzzFeed it was a temporary fixture that the government wanted completed before the Nov. 19 protests.
The monument, which government officials said symbolized the “rising up” of the Egyptian people in Tahrir Square, was seen by some as an attempt by the government to re-write history.
The protests planned for Tuesday mark the anniversary of the killing on November 19, 2011 of 40 protesters on Mohamed Mahmoud Street off Tahrir Square. In an apparent attempt to commandeer the protests as their own, the Egyptian government security forces announced they would also hold ceremonies and celebrations Tuesday.
At least 20 armored personal carriers belonging to the army sealed off Tahrir Square on Monday, but protesters still weaved through.
“A word in your ear, Sisi, don’t dream of being my president!” the protesters yelled. In some parts of Tahrir, supporters of the Egyptian military and of General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi began clashing with protesters.
Sisi has become wildly popular in Egypt since the ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood, and many believe he would win if he ran for president in elections expected next year.
There are growing concerns that the country has descended into various warring sects. The organizers of Monday’s protests said they chose to take the streets the day before the planned Tuesday anniversary to avoid clashes with security forces. Meanwhile, rhe anti-military, anti-Brotherhood group “The Way of the Revolution Front” planned a demonstration Tuesday on Mohamed Mahmoud Street.
Both sets of demonstrators have vowed not to allow Brotherhood supporters to join their protests. Brotherhood members, meanwhile, have called for their own day of protests which will include wearing all-white in solidarity with ousted president Morsi’s white prison uniform.