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News, 11/21/2011

Tahrir Square on 20 November

Reports and pictures about events in Tahrir Square in Cairo are alarming but this does not yet mean a recurrence of the events seen earlier this year. Life in the city outside the square continues more or less normally unlike in January, when the Egyptian society was in turmoil.

I have met several activists tonight who have been on Tahrir Square and who were receiving real-time messages from the scene. Even though the groups of demonstrators are smaller than earlier, the demand for democracy is not likely to be on the wane. The underlying tone here is however, that provocations from whatever direction or from any element of the security machinery must not be used as a pretext to interfere in the election process starting next Monday. The multi-tier election process itself is complicated and a definite schedule of its last phase, which is the presidential elections, is not yet available. From the point of view of the democracy process, undisrupted conduct of the first phase of the elections is the best way to proceed and make any effort to call it off impossible.

Any violence against demonstrators is indefensible as such and should not be underestimated as a provocation against the democracy process. However, it is vain to imagine that this would scare the released spirit of freedom and democracy back into the bottle.

Erkki Tuomioja, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Finland

 

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Updated 11/24/2011

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