I went to the Institut d’Egypte on Saturday afternoon after I heard what happened. I discovered a building that was completely charred and burnt. There were two groups of protesters there, some from Tahrir Square and some from the avenue of the Assembly [where a new protest camp has been erected, not far from Tahrir square]. The latter were mainly Ultras
[hard-core football supporters who have joined forces with protesters] and relatives of killed demonstrators.
The Institut d’Egypte is just a short walk away from Tahrir Square. Personally, I have some doubts about the official version of events, which accuses protesters of throwing Molotov cocktails into the building. First of all, there are many administrative buildings in the neighbourhood, such as the police station, that constitute a much more logical target. Why would they set fire to a cultural institution?
Although at this point there is no proof directly linking the authorities to the arson, the army is responsible for slowing down fire-fighting efforts [Twitter messages during the fire denounced the fact that soldiers allegedly blocked fire fighters from reaching the scene]. As for the protesters’ so-called violence: when I arrived at the scene, the protesters I saw there were calm. Violence only flared when security forces arrived and set up a barricade in front of the institute.”