'The new Berlin': troops man Cairo barricade

Military builds 7ft wall to stop protesters 'betraying' Egypt

Cairo

In a stark illustration of the divide which now separates Cairo's demonstrators from the Military Council, the Egyptian army yesterday erected a 7ft-high breezeblock wall on Mohamed Mahmoud Street, the road leading off Tahrir Square which has seen the worst of the violence that has claimed dozens of lives this week.

"Cairo has become Berlin," joked a protester, Ibrahim Abdul Ghani, as he looked at the wall, which blocks one of the main access routes to the Interior Ministry. Troops manning another main road leading to the ministry set up steel barriers and coils of barbed wire, suggesting the military is intent on defusing the prolonged street clashes which have threatened to derail the elections.

But in a press conference yesterday members of the Military Council did little to calm the protesters, rejecting a key demand of those camped out in Tahrir Square by saying that an immediate handover to civilian rule would represent a "betrayal" of the country. Justifying the wall, they said they would not allow the ministry to be threatened.

The nation's leaders also said there would be no delay in the parliamentary elections scheduled to start on Monday – despite nearly a week of continuous rioting which has claimed dozens of lives.

"The election will be held on time with all of its three stages on schedule," Maj-Gen Mamdouh Shaheen said at a press conference yesterday.

The apparent rejection of any transfer of power to a civilian council – two days after Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi said the military would consider a referendum on the matter – leaves unresolved one of the main sticking points of this crisis.

Maj-Gen Mukhtar el-Mallah claimed that relinquishing power would be a "betrayal of the trust placed in our hands by the people".

"We will not relinquish power because a slogan-chanting crowd said so," he added. "Being in power is not a blessing. It is a curse. It's a very heavy responsibility."

Ramy el-Swissy from the April 6 movement – an influential youth group that has demanded the introduction of an interim civilian government – said protesters would remain in Tahrir Square until the ruling generals made further concessions. "We will make sure that we won't leave until our demands are met," he told The Independent.

Yesterday the ruined streets ofcentral Cairo lay quiet for the first time since Saturday, after a truce brokered between protesters and the police. But the recent chain of violence has been the worst since former President Hosni Mubarak was toppled in February, claiming nearly 40 lives, according to human rights groups. The military has offered an apology for the deaths of so many civilians. But yesterday Egypt's leading human rights organisations denounced the "fallacious statements" of the authorities and called for the resignation of senior officials, including the Interior Minister, General Mansour el-Essawi.

"Statements from the Interior Ministry included blatant lies denying that their forces fired live ammunition," said the NGOs in a joint statement, adding that the Military Council had supported the use of "brutal violence" against demonstrators.

Divisions have also emerged within the Muslim Brotherhood, whose political wing is widely expected to romp to victory in the coming elections.

Senior members of the organisation opposed any participation in the Tahrir Square sit-in, keen to avoid anything which could derail Monday's parliamentary poll and thus jeopardise their landmark bid for power.

But members of the Brotherhood Youth happily ignored their senior leaders, while other political parties accused the organisation of opportunism.

Meet the new boss: Former Mubarak Prime Minister set to take control

Egypt's ruling generals risked another confrontation with protesters by reportedly asking a former Prime Minister who served under Hosni Mubarak to form a new government.

Kamal Ganzouri, who was the premier from 1996-99, agreed to the proposal after meeting Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi yesterday, according to state media.

He gained a measure of popularity among some activists after attempting to distance himself from the Mubarak era following the former President's ousting in February. Some even touted him as a possible presidential candidate.

Yet the selection of a figure from the old regime remains a strange choice for the Military Council.

Shady al-Ghazaly Harb from the Revolution Youth Coalition, which is demanding that power is handed over to a civilian council, told The Independent it was "the worst move ever".

Alastair Beach

Journalist 'sexually assaulted and blindfolded' in Interior Ministry

A prize-winning Egyptian-American journalist claims she was beaten, blindfolded and sexually assaulted whilst being detained inside Cairo's Interior Ministry.

Mona Eltahawy, a former Reuters correspondent who writes columns for a number of newspapers around the world and makes regular television appearances as a commentator on Egyptian affairs, recounted her 12-hour ordeal through a series of posts on Twitter.

Eltahawy detailed how "five or six surrounded me, groped and prodded my breasts, grabbed my genital area and I lost count how many hands tried to get into my trousers". In a post soon after being arrested on Wednesday night, she wrote: "Beaten arrested in interior ministry."

There have been numerous reports of journalists being arrested during the recent rioting, including an American film-maker and a Wall Street Journal photographer.

Alastair Beach

Suggested Topics
Sport
footballLIVE City face Stoke, while Warnock returns to Palace dugout
Life and Style
3D printed bump keys can access almost any lock
gadgets + techSoftware needs photo of lock and not much more
News
Paul McCartney backs the
people
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Arts and Entertainment
Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow
tvSimon Usborne goes behind the scenes to watch the latest series
Life and Style
Silvia says of her famous creation: 'I never stopped wearing it. Because I like to wear things when they are off the radar'
fashionThe fashion house celebrated fifteen years of the punchy pouch with a weighty tome
Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
News
i100Steve Carell selling chicken, Tina Fey selling saving accounts and Steve Colbert selling, um...
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
newsThe industry's trade body issued the moratorium on Friday
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
News
i100
News
The slice of Prince Charles and Princess Diana's wedding cake and the original box from 29 July 1981
newsPiece of Charles and Diana's wedding cake sold at auction in US
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

C# .NET Web Developer (ASP.NET, JavaScript, jQuery, XML, XLST)

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Web De...

Clinical Negligence Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: HAMPSHIRE MARKET TOWN - A highly attr...

Network Engineer (CCNP, CCNA, Linux, OSPF, BGP, Multicast, WAN)

£35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Network Engineer (CCNP, CCNA, Linux, OSPF,...

Commercial Property Solicitor - Bristol

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: A VERY HIGH QUALITY FIRM A high qual...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone