Live Updates 2: Rival protests across Egypt, fierce fighting near Tahrir

Salma Shukrallah, Bel Trew, Nada Rashwan, Ahmed Feteha, Friday 23 Nov 2012

Thousands still chant in Tahrir against brotherhood, street battles between police and protesters continue near Square, tens of pro-Morsi supporters remain at presidential palace

Tahrir square
Protesters run from riot police during clashes at Tahrir square in Cairo November 23, 2012. (Photo: Reuters)

Ahram Online concludes its live-update coverage of the intense demonstrations of 23 November. Below are the day's highlights.

19:48 Thousands continue to chant against the president in Tahrir.

19:36 Prime Minister Hisham Qandil holds urgent meeting with ministers of Interior and Defence, Pan-Arab news network Al-Arabiya reports.

19:14 Protesters form human shield around the field hospital located in Qasr Al-Aini street intersection with Tahrir Square. Several demonstrators were rushed to the field hospital to be treated from suffocations caused by tear gas thrown by CSF as clashes continue. 

18:50 Ahram Arabic news website reports clashes between pro and anti-Morsi protesters in eight governorates throughout the day. According to Ahram, clashes erupted in the governorates of Alexandria, Ismailia, Assiut, Port-Said, Suez, Mahalla, Damietta, Menya, Aswan.

Protesters hurl stones during clashes between supporters and opponents of President Mohammed Morsi in Alexandria, Egypt, Friday, Nov. 23, 2012. (AP)

18:34 Five injured in clashes between Morsi supporters and opponents in the Nile Delta governorate of Daqahilya, reports Egyptian satellite channel ONTV.

18:30 Read Ahram Online's overview of President Morsi's speech to supporters at the presidential palace this afternoon

18:20 Protesters shield the Scientific Institute which was burnt down during last year’s clashes near the Cabinet building, resulting in the loss of hundreds of books.  

18:05 The Ultras, hardcore football fans, are now leading the skirmishes with the security forces on Qasr Al-Aini Street, says Ahram Online reporter on the scene. 

18:00  On Tahrir Square, Ahram Online reporter Osman El-Sharnoubi says protesters travelled to the square from across Egypt.

"Morsi said he will deal with protesters firmly, this is exactly what Mubarak said before,” says Mahmoud El-Banna, from Upper Egyptian city of Beni Soueif. 

17:55 If you want find out what sparked today's protests, check out Ahram Online's English language version of Thursday's Constitional Declaration here

17:50 Pan-Arab news network Al-Arabiya report that the former prosecutor-general Abdel-Meguid Mahmoud, who was dismissed following a change in his role's term length, will contest the president's declaration in the Court of Cassation. 

17:45 Despite Ahram Online journalists reporting heavy use of tear gas and live footage on several TV channels of the toxic clouds, a security official denies to Al-Ahram Arabic news website that police are firing teargas at protesters.

Tear gas canisters fired by riot police land among protesters during clashes at Tahrir square in Cairo November 23, 2012. (Photo: Reuters)

17:44 Back to the presidential palace in Heliopolis, Ahram Online journalist reports calmer scenes. After performing the Maghreb (sundown) prayers, thousands of Morsi supporters have started to leave. 

17:42 Health Ministry spokesperson, Ahmed Omar, announces that 18 people have been injured today in Tahrir Square. All have been transferred to the Coptic hospital in downtown.

17:41 Moving East, dozens are demonstrating in the Red Sea resort town of Sharm El-Sheikh against Morsi’s Declaration, Al-Ahram Arabic language news website reports. Protesters include members of April 6 Youth Movement and the Constitution Party.

17:30 In reaction to President Morsi's latest Constitutional Declaration the European Union released a statement urging the president to respect the "democratic process."

"It is of utmost importance that the democratic process be completed in accordance with the commitments undertaken by the Egyptian leadership," a spokesman for Catherine Ashton, EU foreign policy chief, said in a statement.

Morsi must ensure the separation of powers, the independence of the judiciary, the protection of fundamental freedoms and the holding of democratic parliamentary elections "as soon as possible," said the spokesman, Michael Mann.

17:25 Still on Tahrir Square, amid plumes of tear gas, Ahram Online reporter Osman El-Sharnoubi gets the lowdown from opposition protesters.

“Today is a very good start for the process of resisting the Constitutional Declaration, or what we call a coup. We are yet to evaluate our options to plan our next move,” says Emad Attiya, a founding member of the Socialist Popular Alliance Party, which was one of the groups behind Friday's rally.

Ahmed Hamid, a demonstrator suffering from the effects of tear gas, told Ahram Online that he was protesting peacefully when he approached the police who started firing at them and chasing the protesters in their armoured vehicles.

“God willing, we will bring down Morsi,” he adds. 

17:20 Thousands of Ultras enter Tahrir Square while chanting their protest songs, reports Ahram Online Osman El-Sharnoubi.

Thousands of Ultras enter Tahrir Square while chanting their protest songs, reports Ahram Online Osman El-Sharnoubi. (Photo: Mai Shaheen)

17:15 Good afternoon - we return to dramatic scenes near Cairo's Tahrir Square, where Central Security Forces armored vehicles are charging protesters on Qasr Al-Aini Street, driving groups back to the flashpoint square. Molotov cocktails and tear gas canisters are launched back and forth.

Clashes continue to overshadow the mass rally on Tahrir Square protesting President Morsi's surprise Constitutional Declaration released Thursday, while on the other side of the capital thousands of the president's supporters remain at the presidential palace in Heliopolis.

Over 30 opposition political groups are behind Friday's protests, which were initially called to commemorate the year anniversary of Mohamed Mahmoud Street clashes. Their demands include the dismissal of Morsi's cabinet, prosecuting police officers responsible for killing and injuring protesters and a purge and restructuring of Egypt's national police force.

However, the new declaration, which gave the president sweeping authorities, changed the focus of the rallies and lead commentators to dub Morsi the "new Pharaoh."

Signatories to the statement included the Constitution Party, the Social Democratic Party, the Free Egyptians Party, the Socialist Popular Alliance Party, the Democratic Front Party, the Egypt Freedom Party, the Egyptian Popular Current and the National Association for Change.

For a blow-by-blow account of the morning's events, see our earlier live update coverage here

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