At least four killed in Egyptian protests

Sat, Jan 26, 2013, 00:00

Egypt’s official news agency said last night the death toll had risen to four, including a teenager, in clashes in the city of Suez between police and protesters on the second anniversary of the revolution that toppled Hosni Mubarak.

The agency quoted the head of the emergency ward at the city’s main hospital as saying five other people were being treated for gunshot wounds after the clashes, raising the possibility of more fatalities.

At least 186 people were injured in clashes around the country, according to the head of the country’s ambulance services, Mohammed Sultan.

Tens of thousands of Egyptians converged on Cairo’s Tahrir Square yesterday to mark the anniversary of the beginning of the uprising.

Rallies erupted in streets and squares from Luxor in the south to Alexandria in the north, revealing the depth of disillusionment over the failure of the revolution to deliver Egyptians from one-party rule, human rights abuses, mismanagement and economic hard- ship.

Protesters resumed the chants that brought Mubarak down: “Bread, freedom and social justice”, and “The people want the fall of the regime”.

The regime they now seek to topple is dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood instead of Mubarak’s National Democratic Party through his Brotherhood successor, Mohamed Morsi.

“Oh president of the republic, where are your revolutionary promises?” they demanded, calling for prosecutions for 846 deaths during the 18-day uprising, a purge of security agencies and an end to military trials for activists.

Protesters highlighted the sharp division between secularists and fundamentalists by rejecting the “Brotherhoodisation” of the state by means of a constitution written under the aegis of the fundamentalist movement.

Protesters trying to bring down a cement block barricade on a street leading from Tahrir Square to the ministry of the interior were enveloped in clouds of tear gas. They responded by pelting police with stones and firebombs.

Shooting in Alexandria

Police in Alexandria shot at protesters who were calling for the dismissal of Brotherhood-appointed prime minister Hisham Qandil, and skirmished with demonstrators in Port Said who were demanded stiff sentences for thugs involved in rioting that left 74 dead at a football match.

The Ismailiya headquarters of the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice party was torched.

Fourteen opposition groups participated, including the National Salvation Front, led by Nobel laureate Mohamed ElBaradei, the Wafd, the Socialist Youth Movement and Strong Egypt, headed by Abdel Moneim Abul-Fatouh, a defected Brotherhood figure.

Dr ElBaradei said Mr Morsi must listen to the people’s demands or leave office. He added there had been no positive changes since Mr Morsi assumed power in June, which is why Egyptians were protesting rather than celebrating.

Another opposition leader, Hamdeen Sabahi, said the president had to secure justice for the martyrs of the uprising, draft a new constitution and appoint a neutral government to conduct elections.

Egyptian author Ahdaf Soueif said she was in Tahrir Square “to keep the pressure on [the regime] and for social justice for the Egyptian people”.

The Brotherhood, which did not initially support the 2011 demonstrations, commemorated the anniversary by mobilising supporters to plant trees and launching a campaign to provide the poor with housing, healthcare, services and subsidised goods. Detractors insist that the effort is a ploy to win votes in the coming parliamentary poll.

The Ahram Online news website quoted American University in Cairo professor Rebab El-Mahdi, who said protests would not bring down the regime. “The circumstances now are different than in January 2011.”

– (Additional reporting: PA)