The mood on the streets of Cairo and other Egyptian cities is one of fear and uncertainty. After initially trying to squash the protests the police suddenly disappeared. Law and order appears to have broken down, provoking panic across residential areas regardless of how real the danger is.
“Everyone is walking around carrying knives,” said one street trader. “That means everyone has now locked away their children. Why have they done that? Because they are afraid. The police have run away.”
His friend said: “We live in downtown Cairo and right now nobody wants the president. But even his government is not here. We are out on the streets protecting ourselves. Those people who have escaped from jail, it doesn’t matter to them who you are. They just go after anyone who has money in their pocket.”
Military check points have been set up and weapons taken off the newly formed gangs of youths. Would-be vigilante groups of normally passive neighbours are out patrolling to protect their homes but armed with only sticks they can do little against guns.