What happened on Oct.24, the first day of Eid Al-Fitr, in downtown Cairo? According to shop owners in the vicinity of Metro Cinema near Talaat Harb Square, up to a thousand young men accosted several women in the area between the hours of 9 p.m. and midnight.
According to eyewitness reports, the men had been waiting for tickets to attend the premiere of one of the traditional Eid films – “Abdu Mawasem (Abdu of the Seasons), starring Ola Ghanem – when the show sold out.
They went on a rampage, breaking the cinema’s windows and allegedly attacking passersby.
“It’s true, I hid some girls in my store, said Mustafa, an attendant at a juice store across from the cinema.
On the second day of Eid, a reporter from The Daily Star Egypt went to the site of the alleged riots and saw empty window frames, the glass windows smashed.
Ushers at the cinema confirmed that glass had been broken and the exterior of the theater had been under attack.
The story quickly made it onto Egyptian blogs and was highlighted by some political activists as a failure of security forces to control the situation.
The blogs published pictures of the so-called riots but all proved to be inconclusive and were rather blurry. Dream 2 TV ran an exposé on the incidents but could not provide proof. Eyewitnesses who were in Talaat Harb and the vicinity of the cinema claimed that women in cars and taxis were forcibly removed and stripped but their reports could not be substantiated.
For its part, the Ministry of the Interior denied any such riots took place downtown or anywhere in Cairo during the Eid holidays. An unnamed spokesperson told the media that police stations in the vicinity received no complaints or calls citing a disturbance or attempted attack.
The story has not made it into the pages of local press and remains a rumor.