Thousands commemorate Mohamed Mahmoud clashes in a three-way Tahrir

Osman Sharnoubi, Reem Gehad, Sarah El-Rashidi, Salma Shukrallah , Tuesday 19 Nov 2013

The protests by anti-military, anti-Brotherhood forces were peaceful until late in evening, when small groups of demonstrators clashed with police; Pro-Sisi demonstrators and Islamists prevented from entering Tahrir Square

Demonstrators in Tahrir behind a banner that reads: "No to the military, no to the old regime remnants, no to the Brotherhood" and a row of symbolic coffins for Mohamed Mahmoud victims (Photo: Mai Shaheen)

Several thousand people rallied in central Cairo on Tuesday to commemorate clashes in 2011 which left dozens of protesters dead and hundreds severely injured.

Protesters chanted slogans in Mohamed Mahmoud Street against both the Egyptian military and the Muslim Brotherhood and demanded the purging of the interior ministry, clapping their hands to the rhythm of drums in the crowd as they commemorated the victims of the 2011 clashes which took place in the same street. 

Days of clashes between anti-military protesters and security forces erupted in Mohamed Mahmoud Street, just off Tahrir Square, on 19 November 2011, leaving 47 dead and at least 3,000 injured.

At the time, the Muslim Brotherhood and their Islamist allies denounced the protesters, accusing them of trying to disrupt parliamentary elections which were scheduled to start a week later.

One of the main groups present at the Tuesday protest was the Way of the Revolution Front, a recently-founded coalition that opposes both the military and the Muslim Brotherhood. The front includes leading members of the April 6 Youth Movement, the Strong Egypt Party, the Revolutionary Socialists and the Justice and Freedom Youth.

Intermittent scuffles erupted in Tahrir as protesters tried to force supporters of army chief Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi out of the iconic square, where some protesters had gathered.

At one point on Tuesday evening, an Islamist demonstration by the "Youth Against the Coup" group attempted to approach Mohamed Mahmoud Street. Protesters held Rabaa signs and pictures of ousted president Mohamed Morsi. The anti-Brotherhood and anti-military crowds in Tahrir and Mohamed Mahmoud Street prevented the demonstration from entering.

"Some Islamists, but only a few, tried entering the square, but we forced them to leave," Mohamed Dessouki, who described the Mohamed Mahmoud protests as against both El-Sisi and Morsi, told Ahram Online.

The National Alliance to Support Legitimacy, a wider Islamist umbrella led by the Muslim Brotherhood, instead rallied supporters for a march to Kasr Al-Qoba palace in another part of Cairo. Thousands joined the demonstration on Tuesday afternoon, and peacefully dispersed around nightfall.

Other limited pro-Morsi protests were also held in several parts of Egypt.

Health ministry official Ahmed El-Ansari said on Tuesday evening that 17 had been injured nationwide in protests – including some Islamist demonstrations in the Delta. Most of the injuries were minor, El-Ansari said.

Four people were wounded in Cairo's Tahrir Square and at the nearby interior ministry, including one police officer, the official said.

Small numbers of Islamists and some military supporters were on the scene and argued with other protesters.

"I was in Mohamed Mahmoud in 2011 and I feel nothing good has happened, no justice," Youth Against the Coup member Mostafa Anana, 24, told Ahram Online. "I did not vote for Morsi, unfortunately. Perhaps sharia (Islamic law) would have made it better."

Pro-army protester Afaf Mohamed told Ahram Online that she had come to urge El-Sisi to run for the presidency in 2014.

"I want to support him and I believe in his agenda," she said. "May God protect him and our army." 

"People came to this rally when they heard the Brotherhood would not be protesting in Mohamed Mahmoud or Tahrir," said Sarah Mohamed of the Revolutionary Socialists.

Mohamed said she wanted former military council head Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, ousted president Mohamed Morsi and El-Sisi to be tried for "killing protesters."

The rally coincided with a crucial World Cup qualifying match taking place elsewhere in Cairo on Tuesday evening.

Egypt played Ghana for a much-coveted place in the tournament, but the odds were too large to beat.

Protesters in Tahrir did not have to miss the action; three large screens had been hastily set up in the square to show the game.

By 9pm, leading pro-revolution group the April 6 Youth Movement announced the end of the demonstrations.

"Today was a positive demonstration. We were here to deliver a message to the military, the Brotherhood and remnants of the old regime, which is that retribution for the martyrs since January 25 (2011) is crucial. We did not come to clash with anyone," said Islam Mosaad, a protester in his twenties.

A few hundred protesters remained in the vicinity of Tahrir Square as the night wore on, and clashes erupted between the groups and police deployed at the Arab League headquarters, just off the square. Police fired teargas after dozens of protesters aimed fireworks in their direction.

Dessouki, who said he had previously been involved in informal security arrangements to protect protesters during Tahrir demonstrations, told Ahram Online that the small groups trying to initiate clashes with security forces at the Arab League were "ruining the day."  

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