Modest countrywide anti-Morsi protests, clashes at Presidential Palace

Ahram Online, Osman El-Sharnoubi, Monday 11 Feb 2013

Anti-govt rallies marking 2nd anniversary of Mubarak's ouster fail to draw large numbers, but that doesn't stop limited clashes from erupting outside Presidential Palace in Cairo

Hundreds marched from Sayeda Zeinab in Cairo to Tahrir (Photo: Mai Shaheen)

Small, peaceful demonstrations hit the streets of Egypt on the second anniversary of former president Hosni Mubarak's ouster to protest against President Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood group from which he hails.

The day, however, turned violent when limited clashes erupted between protesters and police at the Presidential Palace in Cairo's Heliopolis district.

Skirmishes first broke out around 8pm outside the palace between hundreds of protesters and Presidential Guard personnel.

According to Al-Ahram's Arabic-language news website, the Presidential Guard sprayed protesters with water hoses after several anti-government demonstrators attempted to tear down the barbed wire surrounding the palace.

Egyptian Central Security Forces (CSF) pushed protesters arrayed outside the palace (located on Merghani Street) towards the nearby Roxy Square, as they moved forward from Salah Salem Street with their armoured vehicles firing teargas canisters.

A number of protesters responded by hurling rocks at security personnel.

Meanwhile, in Cairo's iconic Tahrir Square, only a few hundred protesters gathered to commemorate the anniversary of the end of Mubarak's thirty-year rule.

Laila, an elderly retired schoolmaster who preferred not to give her last name, made her way to Tahrir on a march from the nearby Ramses Square, in which dozens of other protesters took part.

"I'm here in hopes that Morsi will see that people are mad at him and that the people don't want him anymore," she said, adding that she was asking for "the fall of Morsi and the government."

When asked about the scant numbers taking part in the protest, Laila stressed that she was participating regardless of numbers.

"Oh Mubarak, tell Morsi: jail comes after the presidency," protesters yelled. The main stage at Tahrir played a recording of Mubarak’s resignation speech to the small crowd who applauded upon its conclusion.

Meanwhile, a group of people set up a football field on one side of the square for a planned five-a-side tournament.

Game coordinator Islam Nour El-Din said the initiative was intended to attract people to the square and not be afraid of participation.

"We want to send a message to people that the square is drug-free and thug-free," he told Ahram Online.

Another protester, Mohamed Ramadan, told Ahram Online that the protest is largely symbolic. "This demonstration is only to commemorate, it isn't decisive," he said, adding that the small number of people in Tahrir reflected that.

Ramadan said he was in Tahrir because he hadn't seen any change since Morsi assumed the presidency and because of the president's bad decisions.

"The economy is going downhill; prices have gone up 30 percent," Ramadan lamented.

The largest demonstration came from Cairo's Sayeda Zeinab district, where a few thousand marched towards Tahrir chanting against the Muslim Brotherhood and condemning the political group for failing to meet the revolution's demands.

Flags of the Socialist Popular Alliance Party and others of the Revolutionary Socialists could be seen waving at the Sayeda Zeinab protest.

In Alexandria, a few thousand people marched from Victoria Square, briefly blocking Abu-Qir Street and creating traffic congestions in several parts of the coastal city.

Hundreds demonstrated in Upper Egypt's Assiut, meanwhile, and tens in Qena demanding the fulfilment of revolutionary goals and against the Muslim Brotherhood.

According to Egyptian Social Democratic Party member in Assiut Hossam Hassan Amin, groups participating in the demonstrations included members of his party, in addition to those of the Free Egyptians, the Constitution Party, the Wafd Party, the April 6 youth movement and the Revolution Youth Union.

"The demonstration is to commemorate the ouster of Mubarak and send a message to Morsi that his fate will be similar to that of Mubarak if he does not meet the people's demands and provide retribution for the revolution's martyrs," Hilal Abdel-Hamid told Al-Ahram's Arabic-language news website.

In Tanta, hundreds more demonstrated around the city, screening videos in the centrally-located Martyrs Square showing violations committed since Morsi became president.

As of 10pm, limited clashes remained ongoing at the Presidential Palace between the CSF and tens of protesters. 

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