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Two days of protests and violence leave Egypt on edge

Ahram Online covered fierce clashes between protesters and security forces in several Egyptian cities during the revolution's 2nd anniversary and tracked reactions from major political players

Ahram Online, Saturday 26 Jan 2013
Clashes
Protesters opposing Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi shield their faces from tear gas during clashes along Mohamed Mahmoud Street which leads to the Interior Ministry, Cairo's downtown (Photo: Reuters)
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Political turmoil, instability, and polarisation deepened in Egypt in the last two days as angry protesters lash out at president Mohamed Morsi, the Musslim Brotherhood and the police.

At least 40 people were killed in nationwide clashes between protesters and security forces in the past 48 hours as opposition forces escalate their rhetoric against the incumbent Muslim Brotherhood regime.

On the second anniversary of the 2011 revolution Friday, hundreds of thousands hit the streets chanting slogans against Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, from which he hails, charging both with failing to fulfill the demands of the revolution after assuming power.

Many called for the cancellation of the "unrepresentative" constitution drafted by the Islamist-dominated Constituent Assembly and newly ratified.

Protests turned violent with hundreds of injuries reported in Cairo, Alexandria, Beheira, Luxor, Kafr El-Sheikh, Gharbia, Sharqia, Ismailia and Suez.

In Suez alone, nine protesters were killed as government buildings and Brotherhood headquarters were attacked and torched.

On Saturday, 30 more were killed in fierce confrontations that broke out in Port Said, where police forces locked horns with families and supporters of 21 defendants sentenced to death in connection to last year's football massacre where over 70 Ahly fans died in a violent attack by Masry fans from Port Said.

As a result of the violence, president Morsi opted not to travel to Ethiopia to attend an African economic summit.

On Saturday evening, Egypt’s National Defence Council, led by President Morsi, said it might consider declaring a state of emergency in areas of violence, calling for dialogue with opposition forces over ongoing clashes in several governorates.

Opposition forces, however, do not look poised to agree to the dialogue.

Several political parties and groups embarked on a demonstration Saturday afternoon marching from Tahrir Square's Omar Makram Mosque to the nearby Shura Council (the lower house of parliament) protesting Friday's killings and calling for the realisation of the revolution's demands.

Central Security Forces (CSF) used teargas to disperse hundreds of marchers near the Shura Council on Qasr El-Aini Street, off Tahrir Square. Many were arrested in the area afterwards.

Egypt’s main opposition grouping, the National Salvation Front (NSF), has urged President Morsi to respond positively to five demands announced by the group, or else face mass peaceful protests.

For its part, the Muslim Brotherhood, said in a statement that "thugs," "misleading" media, and opposition parties were to blame for the nationwide violence, inferring in particular that the violence was pre-planned.

Meanwhile, Britain and Germany have called on all sides in the ongoing process of polarisation in the country to reach peaceful solutions.

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