Editor's note: Khaled Fahmy is the chairman of the history department at the American University in Cairo.
Cairo, Egypt (CNN)
-- The events of Wednesday offer a brutal example of President Hosni
Mubarak's disastrous security-driven policy. For nine days,
pro-democracy demonstratorshad taken to the streets asking for nothing less than a complete change of the regime.
Tuesday, hundreds of thousands of people congregated on Tahrir Square
at the center of the city asking Mubarak to leave and effectively saying
that they had had enough of his bankrupt, soulless and dull leadership.
Eventually, Mubarak appeared on TV on Tuesday night, offering not run
for re-election in September.
But rather than allow this limited
concession to have its course and for people to mull it over, he
resorted to what he knows best: a heavy-handed, security-informed
tactic. On Wednesday, I witnessed hundreds of men ranging in age from
perhaps 20 to 40, being given directions as to where to meet and which
routes to take to reach Tahrir Square.
This happened on Galaa
Street to the north of the square. I also saw these men then being put
on small trucks, which headed toward Tahrir Square. They were carrying
placards and distributing leaflets that were obviously prepared. Their
attitude was aggressive, and although some passers-by seemed to agree
with the slogans being shouted, none joined these groups on their way to
All in all, it was clear to me that these people had
been organized -- most probably by the ruling National Democratic Party
-- but not at all clear that they actually believed or understood the
slogans that they were shouting. By midday, thousands of thugs had
descended on the peacefully demonstrating pro-democracy crowd in Tahrir
Square with whips, sticks and knives. A bloody confrontation ensued that
reportedly resulted in five deaths and more than 800 wounded.