A harrowing account from Ahram Online:
“We ran to the crisis meeting point on the 4th floor and barricaded ourselves in,” Samak describes, “it unfolded so quickly we followed all our security measures, but no guards of hotels in Egypt are armed. We had to secure guests and colleagues.”
Meanwhile revolutionaries outside the hotel attempted to prevent the thugs from entering the building, reports Ahram Online journalist Karim Hafez who was at the scene.
“When they realised these groups were trying to loot the hotel, protesters shot fire crackers at them as they attacked the building and tried to push them away from the area but these groups were armed with birdshot bullets,” says Hafez.
The assailants also attempted to steal the ATM in front of the hotel.
Journalist Mohammed Mare, who witnessed the event, recounted on his Twitter account that four people arrived in a Lancer car with no licence plate behind the protesters and fired the shots to scare protesters away, before storming the hotel.
The attackers shot at employees and continued to destroy the building for approximately three hours before security forces arrived.
So far there have been no confirmed injuries.
“We are the frontline, I’m still a bit shaky, and the situation is still not resolved. Clashes are starting again,” Samak says, who thanked the revolutionaries that “stood by us last night,” via the hotel’s Twitter account, adding “you are awesome.”
One of my pictures from the previous post is of the entrance to this hotel. One detail I neglected to mention was the pungent effect of tear gas still in the air. I could barely keep my eyes open as I walked through the area. Strangely, this was also true at the Nile River bridge – I would have expected the open air to have dispersed it by then.
This story helps show the complications of Egypt’s situation. Moments earlier these protestors were going hard against the police. But it was the protestors, and not the police, who intervened to save the hotel. [I recall seeing another statement saying the two cooperated to fight back the thugs.]
Egypt’s opposition seems to be banking on the chaos to reverse the president’s extra-legal gains, cause damage to his political chances and reputation, or else have the army step in and reset the situation entirely. Dialogue is so necessary at this moment, but they also have so little reason to trust its fairness. It is a dilemma.
But the opposition in all likelihood does not control the street. A possible outcome is for the president to do what so many Egyptians lament Mubarak is no longer around to do: Crackdown and ensure security.
If this scenario emerges, will it revolution be completely reversed? Will there be another one party system with a handful of loyal opposition parties?
It is far too complicated to say so, and history never repeats itself exactly. But these days, most political parties and ordinary citizens are nervous, expecting the worst. Its just that they define ‘worst’ differently.