Mubarak Shifts to Violence to Hold Power

An explanation of the shift to violence in Egypt from the NY Times.

The deployment of plainclothes forces paid by Mubarak’s ruling party - men known here as baltageya - has been a hallmark of the Mubarak government, and there were many signs that the violence was carefully choreographed.

The Mubarak supporters emerged from buses. They carried the same flags and the same printed signs, and they all escalated their actions, from shouting to violence, at exactly the same moment: 2:15 p.m. The protesters showed journalists police and ruling party identification cards that they said had been taken from several Mubarak supporters who had been caught infiltrating Tahrir Square and detained in a temporary holding pen.

Several people interviewed independently said that ruling party operatives had offered them 50 Egyptian pounds, less than $10, if they agreed to demonstrate in the square on Mubarak’s behalf.
“Fifty pounds for my country!’’ said Yasmina Salah, 29.

Then, suddenly, at exactly 2:15 p.m. arguments between pro- and anti-Mubarak demonstrators around the square turned into shoving matches.

“We don’t know who is with us and who is against us now - we are lost,’’ said Abdel Raouf Mohamed, 37, before he was interrupted by a burly young man who shouted: “I love Mubarak! I need Mubarak!’’

Seven minutes later, Reda Sadak, 45, said: “In 10 minutes, there will be a big fight here. It is an old game, the oldest game in the regime.’’