Today, Egyptian jets have been flying over Cairo, in a frightening demonstration of force:
Egypt’s powerful military stepped up its presence across the anarchic capital on Sunday, closing roads with tanks and sending F-16 fighter jets streaking over downtown in a show of force after days of looting, armed robbery and anti-government protests.
The army made no attempt, however, to disperse some 5,000 protesters gathered at Tahrir Square, a plaza in the heart of downtown that protesters have occupied since Friday afternoon. They have violated a curfew to call for the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak’s regime, which they blame for poverty, unemployment, widespread corruption and police brutality.
Then, minutes before the start of a 4 p.m. curfew, at least two jets roared over the Nile and toward Tahrir Square in the heart of Cairo, where thousands of protesters have gathered each day to demand the end of the administration.
The jets made several passes over the square, dropping lower every time and setting off alarms in parked cars.
Some protesters clapped and waved to them while others jeered. Lines of army tanks jammed a road leading into Tahrir, and a military helicopter hovered overhead.
“This is terrorism, they are trying to scare the people with the planes and the tanks. They are trying to make people afraid and leave the square,” said Gamal Ahmed, a 40-year-old air-conditioning technician.
By evening the presence of overtly pious Muslims in the square was conspicuous, suggesting a significant Muslim Brotherhood representation. Hundreds performed the sunset prayers. Veiled women prayed separately.