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Egypt's Mubarak faces unprecedented protests

Protesters clash with police as they decry high prices, graft and Emergency Law

  • Anger mounts
    Police attempt to stop anti-government protesters inCairo. The Egyptian capital saw crowds chanting againstImage Credit: AP
  • Anger mounts
    Egyptian demonstrators clash with police in central Cairo during a protest on Tuesday against the government, Image Credit: AFP
  • Anger mounts
    Protesters clash with riot police in Cairo on Tuesday. Hundreds chanted slogans against the Egyptian governmenImage Credit: AP
  • Anger mounts
    Police attempt to stop anti-government protesters inCairo. The Egyptian capital saw crowds chanting againstImage Credit: Reuters
  • Anger mounts
    Tear gas smoke fired by Egyptian police is seen as demonstrators gather in central Cairo to demand the ouster Image Credit: AFP
02 Gulf News

Cairo: Egyptian authorities deployed thousands of anti-riot police across the capital as opposition activists staged a series of protests on what they termed as the Day of Rage.

Meanwhile, two protesters and a policeman died on Tuesday during demonstrations staged across Egypt demanding the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak, a security official and medics said, adds AFP

The protesters, Ahmed Soliman Gaber and Mustafa Ragab, died in the port city of Suez in clashes between police and demonstrators, medical officials told AFP.

A policeman, Ahmed Aziz, died from his wounds in Cairo, where thousands had gathered in central Cairo's Tahrir square, the security official said.

Earlier, several opposition politicians, who did not win in recent parliamentary elections, joined by hundreds of protest activists, gathered outside the Supreme Court building in central Cairo and the nearby Bar Association cordoned off by policemen. "No to poverty. No to high prices. No to corruption," they chanted. "No to the emergency law," they added, referring to a law that has been in force since 1981, giving police wider powers.

"I feel optimistic when I see all these Egyptians gathering to demand for change and genuine reforms," said Ayman Nour, an outspoken critic of Mubarak. "The regime should be worried that the patience of the Egyptians are running short," he told Gulf News as he joined other protesters outside the Supreme Court.

Public grievances

Though Tuesday was a public holiday marking the Police Day, scores of people, with grievances against the Government of President Hosni Mubarak, responded to the call for demonstrating on "the Day of Rage" propagated across the social networking website the Facebook. Organisers of the protests said they wanted to decry "police brutalities" and the Emergency Law.

Meanwhile, police closed the street where the parliament building is located in central Cairo and ordered cars to detour. Activists trying to move into the nearby Tahrir Square clashed with police when they tried to stop them. Police fired tear gas and used water cannons to disperse the protesters, according to eyewitnesses

Dozens of protesters were rounded up as others demonstrators were injured, they added. However, the official Middle East News Agency, quoting a security source, denied female protesters were detained.

Protesters from different areas of Cairo had originally planned to converge on Tahrir Square before moving on to the nearby headquarters of the Ministry of the Interior, said sources close to the organisers.

In the run-up to the protests, the Interior Ministry warned it would stand firmly against unlicensed demonstrations. "We have not received any requests for staging demonstrations. Therefore fore, we will be firm against any unlicensed protest," a senior security official was quoted as saying in Tuesday's newspapers.

Other protests were reported in other areas of Cairo, including Shubra, north of the capital, where some Islamists along with secularists pushed through a cordon imposed by police. "You Police Officers, We Are Not Terrorists. We Are your Brothers," chanted the protesters as police later allowed them to continue their protest.

Shops closed

Similar protests were reported in other Egyptian governorates, including the coastal cities of Alexandria, Damietta and Ismailia. There were no reports about clashes between police and the protesters.

Many owners of stores chose to close down their shops, especially in central Cairo, which is usually a rallying point for anti-government protesters.

"Today should be a quiet day because it is a public holiday. However, for safety sake, I would close my store because signs around are bad," Mahmoud Hassan said as he pointed to scores of police vehicles stopping in the nearby. "Some young protesters may defy the police and damage whatever their hands may reach," he told this newspaper.

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It all started with the revolution in 1952 where Nasser and his followers made Egypt their play ground. When Egypt was a kingdom, there was freedom of speech, we were exporters of cotton and wheat and what have you, we were kings in our country. After they overthrew the king on that black July day, they made us a country without hope, without goals, without morals. They made other countries make fun of us for what we have become: uneducated and hateful. If you want to see Egyptians, go watch one of the black and white movies and you will know what the revolution did to us. We were a country of ethics and morals and love and perseverence. Now, we commit suicide because we cannot feed our children, we steal, we take bribes lest we wouldn't live. Shame on Mubarak and his regime and shame on all the souls that participated in humiliating the Egyptians.

Salma Massoud

26 January 2011 14:57jump to comments
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