Violence flares on anniversary of Egypt uprising
CAIRO: Thousands protest against Brotherhood Protesters clashed with police across Egypt on Friday on the second anniversary of the revolt that toppled Hosni Mubarak, taking to the streets against the elected Islamist president who they accuse of betraying the revolution.
At least 91 civilians and 42 security personnel were hurt in violence across the country, officials said. Street battles erupted in Cairo, Alexandria, Suez and Port Said, where the Muslim Brotherhood’s political party offices were torched.
Thousands of opponents of President Mohamed Mursi and his Muslim Brotherhood allies massed in Cairo’s Tahrir Square to revive the demands of a revolution they say has been hijacked by the Islamists.
The Jan. 25 anniversary showcased the divide between the Islamists and their secular foes that is hindering Mursi’s efforts to revive an economy in crisis and reverse a plunge in Egypt’s currency by enticing back investors and tourists.
Inspired by Tunisia’s ground-breaking popular uprising, Egypt’s revolution spurred further revolts across the Arab world. But the sense of common purpose that united Egyptians two years ago has given way to internal strife that has only worsened and last month triggered lethal street battles.
“It’s definitely tense on the ground, but so far there hasn’t been anything out of the ordinary or anything that really threatens to fundamentally alter the political situation,” said Shadi Hamid, director of research at the Brookings Doha Center.
The Brotherhood decided against mobilising for the anniversary, wary of the scope for more conflict after violence in December that was stoked by Mursi’s decision to fast-track an Islamist-tinged constitution rejected by his opponents.
The Brotherhood fiercely denies accusations of trampling on democracy as part of a smear campaign by its rivals.
Before dawn on Friday, police battled protesters who threw petrol bombs and firecrackers as they tried to approach a wall blocking access to government buildings near Tahrir Square.
Clouds of tear gas filled the air. At one point, riot police used one of the incendiaries thrown at them to set ablaze at least two tents erected by the youths, a Reuters witness said.
Skirmishes between stone-throwing youths and the police continued in streets around the square into the day. Ambulances ferried away a steady stream of casualties.