Egypt

Who are the pro-Mubarak demonstrators?

Reuters / Goran Tomasevic

Until Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak made a statment late Tuedsay, the demonstrations in Egypt were largely peaceful in nature. Since then, a growing number of pro-Mubarak demonstrators have emerged and taken up position behind barricades outside Tahrir (Liberation) square.

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It is not yet clear how the demonstrators are being mobilised but reports suggest that bus loads of supporters are being ferried into Cairo, some carrying professionally designed placards.

RFI's Michel Arseneault says that armed and uniformed police were among the demonstrators that are also believed to include undercover police, vigilantes -- as well as pro-regime civilians.

Dossier: Revolution in Egypt

There have been suggestions that the government could be trying to destabilise the protests by drafting in agents provacateurs. Peter Bouckaert, the emergency director at Human Rights Watch, says a large number of looters caught in Cairo and Alexandria were found to have police ID cards as well as people being treated in hospital for gunshot wounds. He added that it was also "unexplainable" that thousands of prisoners escaped from prisons over the weekend.

The rights group Amnesty International says it has documented the use of force by the authorities to stir up trouble and disperse political gatherings.

"It looks like much of this violence is being orchestrated by the Egyptian authorities in order to force an end to the anti-government protests, restore their control and cling onto power in the face of unprecedented public demands for them to go," said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, the deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

In an attempt to explain the sudden appearancce of  Mubarak supporters, state television said they were tourism workers aggrieved at losing business because of the riots.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has also condemned the violence which risks spiralling into a fully-fledged civil war.

 

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