Two years since Mubarak, Egyptians are still protesting



Cairo: Egyptians returned to the Tahrir Square on Friday to mark two years since Hosni Mubarak's ouster, but the revolution seemed far from over as thousands protested against the newly-installed Islamist regime and clashed with security forces.

Rallies by the mainly secular opposition brought thousands of people on streets, and violence was reported from several cities including Alexandria and Suez.

In the canal city of Ismailia, protesters set fire to the headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP).

In Cairo, tens of thousands of opposition supporters gathered at the Tahrir Square, the centre of the pro-democracy protests of 2011, with many chanting slogans denouncing the 'Brotherhoodisation' of the state.

Several marches started after Friday prayers from mosques to different parts of the city, with batches of protesters reaching the presidential palace as well as the state radio and television headquarters.

Much has elapsed since the mass uprising of 2011 overthrew Mubarak, and Egyptians have for the first time elected a government of their own. But the developments have left the country sharply polarised.

The presidential vote that elected Brotherhood leader Mohamed Mursi as the president was far from overwhelming for any single candidate.

A recent referendum on the constitution drafted by the Islamist dominated parliament also left the country deeply divided with the secular and liberal opposition terming the draft as "too Islamist" that would compromise on the rights of the minorities.

The division in Egyptian society was amply displayed today as thousands of protesters shouted slogans against the elected President and his government.

'Down with the rule of the (Muslim Brotherhood) Supreme Guide,' many chanted. 'The people demand the overthrow of the regime,' others said.

"Today the Egyptian people continue their revolution," said Hamdeen Sabahi, a leading opposition leader who finished a close third in the presidential elections held in June.

"They are saying 'no' to the Brotherhood state ... We want a democratic constitution, social justice, to bring back the rights of the martyrs and guarantees for fair elections," the socialist was quoted as saying by Al Ahram.

At least 25 people have been injured in clashes in Cairo since last night. Protests, sometimes violent, continued in Alexandria, Ismailia, Suez and Port Said.

In Alexandria, tear gas was fired at protesters.

Apprehending trouble, the Ministry of Interior posted a message on its Facebook page, asking protesters to express themselves but without violence.

"Dear revolutionaries, you have the right to protest, express your opinion as much as you want. There will be no hostility between you and us as long as you refrain from any sabotage or attacks on police establishments," said the warning.

Besides political instability, Egypt is also struggling with an economic crisis that has seen the Egyptian pound plunge to a record low against the US dollar.

Yesterday, President Mursi blamed remnants of the Hosni Mubarak regime for trying to destabilise the country.

"The counter-revolution is being led by remnants of ousted president Hosni Mubarak's regime to obstruct everything in the country," he said.

PTI