After the police violently cleared 100 or so demonstrators (including a group of the relatives of revolutionary martyrs and injured) from Tahrir Square today, thousands more poured into the square and began clashing with the security forces, burning one police truck and trying to reach the Ministry of Interior. The Ministry of Interior denies using any bullets, pellets or bird shot, but witnesses have widely documented their use. Hundreds are injured, and one dead confirmed so far. Tens of thousands have streamed into Downtown Cairo and are demonstrating in Alexandria, Suez and Mansoura. The fighting goes on, and people are saying that it feels like January 28 all over again.
These clashes feel almost unavoidable, given the military council's terrible performance, the increasing vocal criticism it is facing, the rising tensions of all kinds surrounding the upcoming (poorly planned, utterly confusing) elections -- given the terribly unclear transition process that has been put in place, and the fact that none of the revolution's demands, including the reform of the security forces and real transitional justice, have been met.
Islamist leaders -- the Salafist sheikh Hazem Salah Abu Ismail and the Islamist presidential candidate Mohammed Selim El Awwa -- have gone to Tahrir. Mohammed El Baradei is once again calling for the creation of a "national salvation" government.
This is a huge escalation, and it's not clear whether it may lead to something good (an accelerated transition to civilian government, and a better articulated plan for that transition built on a real consensus between all political forces) or to something even worse (a further army crack-down, the cancellation of elections without proposing an alternative).
On TV tonight, there was plenty of criticism for SCAF, the government and the police and of lamenting of the fact that there is no governing body with legitimacy in the country today. But of course there were also the usual conspiracy theories and condenmations of "chaos."
A chant in the square used to be "The People and the Army are One Hand." Today people chanted (with their usual wit) "The People and the People are One Hand."