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Large iron gate placed at the entrance of Tahrir Square

April 5, 2014 at 2:34 pm

The military-backed Egyptian authorities have set up a huge iron gate at one of the entrances to Tahrir Square, an oppressive measure the public views as violating the freedom of movement.

The three metre high gate is topped with iron bars bristling with spikes and replaced a temporary wall built of cement blocks that was built after the ouster of Hosni Mubarak. The interior ministry claims that the new gate is an attempt to regain a state of tranquillity.

An interior ministry spokesperson, Hani abdul-Latif, said that setting up the iron gate is a temporary measure and is only to be used when there is security chaos in the area.

However, many Egyptians have criticised the measure, pointing out that installing a fortified gate suggests that it will be there for a long period. They argue that the gate, which can be closed easily, is a continuation of the crisis that the country has plunged into after the ouster of its first elected president, Mohamed Morsi.

On Facebook pages, activists compared the gate with the Rafah Crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip, asking several sarcastic questions such as: “What are the times that the new crossing will be open?” and “Has anyone started to dig tunnels yet?”

The new gate is located near the Shura Council and painted in Egypt’s national colours. According to Egyptian media, three additional gates will also be built to block other entrances to the square.

As of now, the other paths to Tahrir Square remain more accessible, but security services do close them from time to time using cement blocks, barbed wire and armed security vehicles.

The gate is not the only measure to be taken to ban protesters from reaching government buildings; walls of large cement blocks have now been built in front of government buildings in several governorates. Security services said they are aimed at preventing terrorist attacks.