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Maged Butter’s testimony

شهادة ماجد بطر باللغة العربية

I was in Nasr City following up Twitter updates off of my phone and waiting to meet up with a lady friend (L) downtown at around 8:00 PM. According to Twitter updates, things were heating up in Maspero with gunshots and people dying so I thought I must go to check out for myself what was going on, and get to see my friend at 8:00 as scheduled.

I stopped a cab and while we were on the 6th of October bridge, the traffic jam was really bad by the Ministry of Finance but the other side of the bridge was completely empty. After we passed Ramsis, I saw a Central Security Forces truck (CSF) parked on the side of the bridge heading back to Nasr City and there was an ambulance coming too. Once the ambulance passed the CSF truck started moving and following the ambulance.

photo (1) near the museum

photo (1) near the museum

As the cab went down the bridge close to Abdel Moneim Reyad there were a lot of people standing there and under the bridge and at the Hilton, so I got out of the cab at the museum.
I called one of my friends (M). I had found out that he was in Maspero via Twitter. He was actually behind the museum at the National Democratic Party office and he came to Abdel Moneim Reyad to meet me. As I was waiting for him, I heard a lot of gun shots or it could have been gas, I couldn’t determine exactly because it was far away from where I was and closer to Maspero.

The demonstrations around me were scattered, some were at the museum, others at Galaa Street, others underneath the bridge, but most of them were around the statue [in Abdel Moneim Reyad Square]. A little later, there was another gathering heading towards Maspero. Once they had passed, my friend arrived. The smell of tear gas got stronger since that day the wind was in our direction and I saw more than 3 tear gas bombs being thrown from over the bridge at the protestors, in front of the Hilton from the side of the Nile.

We started chanting and the numbers started increasing in Abdel Moneim Reyad. A tear gas was thrown at us from over the bridge towards the museum but it landed far away.

A lot of people were warning us that there was stuff being thrown from over the bridge. A yellow fire engine arrived from the side of the Hilton heading towards Abdel Moneim Reyad square. The driver was driving it hysterically and he could have easily hit anyone. We scattered and stood on the pavements on the right and left of the street. A lot of people were throwing stones at the fire engine

Once the fire engine got close to the statue it stopped and mounted the pavement. I realised the driver was hurt and the car was leaning sideways. By the time I got there the driver was gone, I wasn’t able to tell if he was hurt or what exactly happened to him. People gathered around the car and a lot of them wanted to set fire to it, but a bunch of young people climbed on top of it and started calming people down. At the same time as this we started hearing tear gas bombs which we were could smell already anyways.

After a while, a formation of people were coming down from the bridge. They consisted of: people in civilian clothing first and on the side there were a lot of CSF soldiers, in the middle there was a CSF truck firing tear gas bombs in the direction of Galaa Street at the people.

Once the formation went down underneath the bridge the people around me started throwing stones at them, while the people in civilian clothes from the formation were throwing stones at us.

There was a battle of stone throwing between the protesters who had originally been surrounding me and those who were at the Superjet bus stop. I noticed a lot of ambulances at the top of Ramsis Street, and there were a lot of hurt people so the ambulances started moving after a bit. There were a bunch of Copts holding crosses who joined us, and we all chanted against Al-Moshir and against military rule. We changed that Muslims and Christians are one hand. There was a lot of stones being thrown at us and a lot of beating, and I saw someone around me trying to throw a molotov but it fell under the bridge and didn’t get through.

photo (2) the attack of thugs at Abdel Moneim Reyad square, and the attempt to disperse them by water

photo (2) the attack of thugs at Abdel Moneim Reyad square, and the attempt to disperse them by water

The beating was getting more and more intense so we ran towards Tahrir square and the people in civilian clothes continued to throw stones at us and they had sticks as well as military soldiers throwing stones at us. I saw a soldier wearing a black helmet and holding a shield and he was running towards us till we backed to where the fire engine was. A lot of people still wanted to set it on fire to stop the thugs from coming over, others wanted us to use fire hoses to stop them. And that’s what we did. We sprayed the fire hoses from the fire engines at them. A lot of us tried to actually open it but we all failed except one guy who was able to spray the water in the direction of the thugs.
The thugs stopped and backed to where they were under the bridge and at the bus stop. We started to gather again and the stone throwing started and a lot of people came towards us and made a fire line on the ground. Someone brought car tyres and set them on fire under the bridge, we came closer to the bridge and then we backed away again till the thugs came closer to Abdel Moneim Reyad Square. My friend left and my other female friend whom I was supposed to meet originally arrived. I was hit in my right arm and right leg with a stone but it was a small injury.

photo (3) at Abdel Moneim Reyad square

photo (3) at Abdel Moneim Reyad square

Suddenly, stones stopped being thrown from all directions and so we got closer together. We kept chanting “One hand”. It wasn’t only me who was surprised by that, there were a lot of people who were as well.

While we were standing someone pointed out at a person bringing people’s attention to the pistol he had hidden under his shirt and being sarcastic about how we are supposedly one hand. In less than 3 minutes, we were all moving towards Maspiro chanting Christian… Muslim…. One hand.

We passed the Hilton but I went up the bridge because I wanted to take a picture from above. As I was going down I saw a lot of CSF trucks and soldiers standing with their back to the Nile. The soldiers were also blocking the opening of the bridge and the people I was with backed off while others jumped off the bridge to join the rest of the people.

I stayed there for about 10 minutes, and then everyone started running towards the hotel and under the bridge fleeing from Maspiro. The army soldiers and National CSF soldiers that were at the opening of the bridge started running after the people. I couldn’t see where the people were heading but a lot of them left the bridge by the stairs close to the Nile.

After a while, the soldiers went down from the bridge back to where they originally were. After 10-15 minutes I saw two CSF trucks coming from the side of the Museum into Maspiro and the people throw stones at them, they turned back underneath the bridge and went towards Tahrir.

photo (4) the march going to Maspero

photo (4) the march going to Maspero

In a few minutes, I walked towards Tahrir to meet my female friend again and go home. While I was at Abdel Moneim Reyad Square near the museum and on my way to Tahrir I saw a lot of tear gas bombs being thrown from inside Tahrir towards us.

There wasn’t a lot of people, possibly less than 200, and there were others who formed a human chain by holding hands. The point was to protect us and avoid further clashes. My friend and I turned round and we thought we’d go inside since we haven’t seen any soldiers inside but there was gas still.

We went on the pavement from the north side going towards Tahrir and we walked around 10 steps but we couldn’t go any further because the tear gas was too strong and we couldn’t really spot it because it’s transparent.

We went back and we thought we’d go downtown. Unfortunately, I don’t really recall the names of the streets inside but we arrived and at the first junction we found military soldiers wearing black helmets and shields blocking the whole street. They told us that nobody will pass. We went into a side street and went out again from behind them.

We walked for a while and found more soldiers blocking the street leading to Talaat Harb Square. We went into a side street and heard gunshots and soldiers were running after people. Going into another street, we actually got to see Talaat Harb Square and the people who were standing behind the soldiers left while the soldiers were running after others and closing down the square. Finally, we met another friend of ours and went back home around 10 PM.

the coffins at the Coptic hospital waiting for Maspero's battle's victims

the coffins at the Coptic hospital waiting for Maspero's battle's victims

Apologies if this is too long but I was keen on putting down every detail that can help in any way.

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