Street clashes erupt at protests across Egypt

Last Updated: Saturday, February 9, 2013 - 00:47

Cairo: Egyptian security forces fired salvos of teargas at rock-throwing protesters on Friday in several northern cities as thousands marched against the rule of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi and his fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood group.
The street protests were in defiance of hardline Muslim clerics who issued religious edicts this week calling for the killing of opposition leaders.

Carrying Egyptian flags and pictures of slain protesters, demonstrators took to the streets in Cairo, Alexandria, the restive Suez Canal city of Port Said and several Nile Delta cities where the Brotherhood`s popularity has been sharply eroding.

"Down with the rule of the Guide," the crowds chanted, referring not to Morsi but to the top leader of the Brotherhood, Mohammed Badie, who critics say is calling the shots from behind the scenes.

In Cairo, protesters gathered at the central Tahrir Square and outside the presidential palace, where clashes turned violent last week and cameras filmed a protester stripped naked and beaten by security forces.

In Alexandria, protesters tore down a Brotherhood sign and burned it in front of the group`s office while security forces used teargas to disperse the crowds.

Egypt has witnessed a fresh cycle of violence over the past two weeks since the second anniversary of the 2011 uprising that deposed long-time autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

Clashes across the country have left scores dead and hundreds injured. Incidents of abduction, torture and the killings of activists have raised concerns of excessive use of force by police, which was one of the main drivers of the 2011 revolt.

Egypt`s opposition is demanding that Morsi form a new coalition government, open an investigation into the killings of protesters over the past months and give guarantees that upcoming parliamentary elections will be fair and free.

They also want him to form a commission to amend the country`s newly-adopted constitution, which was drafted by an Islamist-led panel and approved last December in a rushed referendum in which only 32 per cent of eligible voters took part.

Morsi and his allies accuse the opposition of trying to incite street violence to seize power after failing at the ballot box.

In a statement today, Murad Ali, a spokesman for the Freedom and Justice party —the Muslim Brotherhood`s political arm —warned the opposition that it would be responsible for any acts of violence that occur during protests. He also called them "losers".

PTI



First Published: Saturday, February 9, 2013 - 00:47

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