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View Full Version : Egyptian protesters clash with riot police

01-26-2011, 12:54 AM
Asalaamu Alaikum,

Tear gas canisters fired by Egyptian police fly as demonstrators gather in central Cairo on Tuesday.

Protests by thousands of anti-government demonstrators in Egypt's capital are turning violent with police firing tear gas and a water canon to disperse the crowds.

Protesters attacked the water canon truck, opening the driver's door and ordering him out of the vehicle.

Police responded by beating protesters with batons as they tried to break cordons to join the main downtown demonstrators.

Protesters massed Tuesday at several locations in the Egyptian capital on what is being called the "Day of Rage," chanting against President Hosni Mubarak and calling for an end to poverty in the first Tunisian-inspired protest in the country.

Other reports said the protests were being called the "Day of Revolution."

The demonstrators chanted, "Long Live a Free Tunisia" and "Down with Hosni Mubarak."
Hundreds of protesters also gathered in Alexandria and other cities.

The call for Tuesday's rallies spread on Facebook and Twitter, with 90,000 saying they would attend. Downtown Cairo came to a standstill and there was a massive security presence.

An NBC producer in Cairo reported that Twitter was unavailable during the protest and that access to Facebook was spotty.

Police said 15 members of the opposition Muslim Brotherhood, which has backed Tuesday's rally, were arrested in another Cairo neighborhood.

Earlier, the government had warned activists that they would face arrest if they went ahead with mass demonstrations.

"The security apparatus will deal firmly and decisively with any attempt to break the law," the government's director for security in the capital Cairo said in a statement.

The rallies have been promoted online by groups saying they speak for young Egyptians frustrated by the kind of poverty and oppression which triggered the overthrow of Tunisia's president. Similar calls have been made in other authoritarian Arab states.

The outcome of the demonstration is seen as a test of whether vibrant Web activism can translate into street action.

The first ramifications of the Tunisia uprising in Egypt surfaced last week when several people set themselves on fire or attempted to do so outside parliament and the prime minister's office.

They sought to copy a young Tunisian vegetable vendor whose self-immolation helped spark the protests that forced Tunisia's authoritarian president to flee the country.

Nearly half of Egypt's 80 million people live under or just above the poverty line set by the United Nations at $2 a day.

Poor quality education, health care and high unemployment have left large numbers of Egyptians deprived of basic needs.

Soon after the Jan. 14 ouster of Tunisia's longtime President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, all eyes focused on Egypt, with observers wondering if the dramatic events in the North African nation could spur unrest against another entrenched Arab regime.

Organizers on Facebook challenged Egyptians to stand up, saying, "We are not less than Tunisia."

'Very excited'
Ahmed Maher, one of the founders of an opposition youth movement and one of the organizers, said he expected the number to be well above previous protests of several hundreds or several thousands.

"Young people are very excited, and this time there will be much more than any other time," Maher told The Associated Press. He said organizers spread 150,000 flyers promoting the protests across the country.

The call for protests was first initiated by "The Martyr" Facebook page, set up in the name of a young Egyptian man, Khaled Said, whose family and witnesses say was beaten to death by a pair of policemen in the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria last year. His case has become a rallying point for the opposition.

Legal parties such as the liberal Wafd and Al-Ghad in addition to supporters of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood — Egypt's best organized opposition group — workers, students, government employees and activists said they will join the rally.

Organizers listed instructions on the Facebook page, including: bring an Egyptian flag, leave any other banners that represent your religious or political affiliation at home.

"Today is for all Egyptians," it declares.

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