Mubarak's henchmen: the word on the street
What has really been happening on the streets of Cairo, and who are these pro-Hosni Mubarak 'supporters' who have suddenly emerged, after many days of genuine protest, to throw rocks and hand-bombs at citizens and demonstrators alike?
Slate had an interesting first-hand account from Tahrir Square on 1 February, entitled ''We are making our future' It captures a spirited movement seemingly on the verge of an unexpected victory over tyranny.
But tonight (2 February) the mood has changed considerably, as pro-regime activists created ugly scenes of confrontation and fear. CNN's wire staff and onsite reporters have been doing some investigating as to Who are the pro-Mubarak demonstrators? They write:
As battles raged between the two sides, some pro-Mubarak protesters were captured by his opponents. Some were terrified to be caught and begged for their lives, screaming that the government had paid them to come out and protest.
Others turned out to be carrying what seemed to be police identification, though they were dressed in plain clothes.
An Interior Ministry spokesman denied on state-run television that police identification cards had been confiscated from demonstrators. He said if they had been, they were were stolen or fake.
State television reporting Wednesday did not always match CNN's own observations of what was happening in Tahrir Square.
Several CNN journalists heard from pro-Mubarak demonstrators that they worked for the government.
Staff from the national petrochemical company said they had been ordered to come and protest.
"These (pro-Mubarak) protests were organized by the government and the ruling National Democratic Party," analyst Kamal Zakher told CNN. The government mustered government workers and lawmakers whose seats are threatened, he said.
"They were ordered to go out today. They are well organised and that is suspicious -- especially the use of camels and horses. These are abnormal techniques to demonstrate," he said, referring to the shocking charge of about 50 or 60 mounted men through Tahrir in the middle of the afternoon.
State television called the pro-Mubarak demonstrators tourism workers.
Simon Barrow is co-director of Ekklesia.
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