Protests kick off to mark 2nd anniversary of Cairo anti-army protests

Ahram Online , Tuesday 19 Nov 2013

Police and army troops appear absent from Tahrir Square and surrounding streets while stepping up their presence elsewhere around the capital ahead of protests marking 2011 deadly clashes

M. Mahmoud protest
Demonstrators gather on Tuesday in Mohamed Mahmoud Street, with some waving banners condemning Egypt's army and the Muslim Brotherhood movement, Cairo, Egypt, November 19, 2013 (Photo: Ahram Arabic news website)

Scores of protesters began gathering around Cairo's Tahrir Square early Tuesday to mark the second anniversary of anti-army protests in 2011 that triggered deadly clashes with security forces, state news agency MENA reported, adding that police and army troops were conspicuously absent from the iconic square.

Dozens gathered in Mohamed Mahmoud Street, off Tahrir Square, waving national flags and holding aloft banners inscribed with the names of the slain. Protesters shouted slogans demanding "retribution for the martyrs" and chanted against toppled Islamist president Mohamed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood movement, MENA added.

Some 47 people were killed and at least 3,000 wounded in the six days of clashes between protesters and security forces that began on November 19, 2011, nine months after Mubarak's ouster. Protesters at the time condemned the heavy-handed police tactics and called on the then ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) to step down.

The capital's usually busy traffic flowed freely Tuesday morning while police and army troops poured into major streets, around state institutions and in traditional protest areas in Cairo and the neighbouring Giza Governorate.

On the first anniversary of the Mohamed Mahmoud Street violence, deadly clashes between protesters and police resumed, leaving at least three killed.

Tuesday's demonstrations come nearly four months after Egypt's army, prompted by massive nationwide protests, ousted Mohamed Morsi, the country's first freely-elected president.

Security forces opened to traffic the sites of former pro-Morsi protest camps in northeast Cairo and Giza (South of Cairo), the dispersal of which by police forces on 14 August had left hundreds dead. 

Maintaining a watchful eye, however, authorities have stationed armoured vehicles, tanks, barbed wire and barricades in the vicinity of the previously volatile sites.

Egypt's Interior Ministry had warned protesters against "elements that might infiltrate the gatherings to threaten public security and peaceful protest," stressing that it "respects reviving the memory of all martyrs for their [patriotic] role."

On Monday, hundreds of protesters chanting against the army and the Brotherhood spray-painted a structure inaugurated earlier in the day by the interim authorities in the heart of Tahrir Square, the epicentre of the 2011 popular uprising and protests over the past three years.

The structure is to provide the foundation for a memorial erected by the government in tribute to all those killed during Egypt's revolution, a move that has infuriated activists who blame the authorities for the killings.

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