Live Updates: 'Friday of Deliverance' yields first casualty

Hazel Haddon, Nada Hussein, Yasmine Wali, Yasmine Fathi, Salma Shukrallah, Saturday 2 Feb 2013

One protester is slain and dozens injured after anti-Morsi rally outside presidential palace turns violent, with security forces and demonstrators continuing to trade teargas, Molotov cocktails into the night

presidential palace
Protesters throw stones and molotov cocktails at security forces inside the presidential palace during clashes between protesters and police in front of the palace, in Cairo February 1, 2013. (Photo; Reuters)

22:13 Rights lawyer and activist Rajia Omran confirms to Ahram Online from the Heliopolis Hospital morgue that 23-year-old protester Mohamed Hussein Korani was killed during Friday’s clashes near the Presidential Palace. According to hospital officials, the slain protester sustained gunshot wounds to the neck and chest. An official announcement has yet to be made regarding Korani’s death.

21:25 Ahram Online’s Bel Trew reports seeing a waiter at a cafe located on Heliopolis’ Khalifa Mamoun Street being shot at close range by shotgun-wielding security forces. He was later dragged into the cafe before being taken away in an ambulance.

21:06 April 6 co-founder Ahmed Maher tells Al-Ahram’s Arabic-language news website that violent protests would “eventually backfire” against the revolution.

“I condemn the violence in front of the Presidential Palace,” Maher said. “Those who think violence will bring down the regime are delusional, as this will only raise sympathy for Morsi on the Egyptian street.”

He added: “The revolution’s main point of strength was its peaceful nature. Of course I reject the use of Molotov cocktails, birdshot and weapons at protests. Why do some quarters want the revolution to lose popular support?”

21:04 According to Ahram Online’s Salma Shukrallah, a few thousand marchers are currently heading from Tahrir Square to the State TV and Radio building in the nearby Maspero district.

20:47 The health ministry announces that the number of injured in Friday clashes had reached 30, at least 24 of whom had been wounded in clashes outside the Presidential Palace. Twelve of the cases, the ministry reports, were the result of teargas inhalation.

Meanwhile, health ministry spokesman Ahmed Omar reports five injuries in Tahrir Square, along with another reported injury in the coastal city of Ismailia.

20:37 Essam El-Erian, vice-president of the Brotherhood’s FJP, describes events at the Presidential Palace as “criminal,” calling on all political parties and movements to denounce them. “These are not protesters; these are criminals who should be chased down and brought to justice,” he says.

20:32 According to Ahram Online’s Osman El-Sharnoubi, Central Security Forces are now retreating away from protesters, although teargas is still being fired. Thousands of protesters remain outside the palace.

20:30 Journalist Ahmed Sabry from Alexandria tells Ahram Online that hundreds of anti-Morsi protesters have converged on the area of Sidi Gaber, arriving from separate marches. The march has arrived at the State TV & Radio building. Skirmshes continue between protesters and the police in front of the city council headquarters.

20:08 Journalist Michel Abdallah tells Ahram Online from the city of Fayoum that limited clashes had erupted between anti-Morsi protesters and FJP members outside the party’s headquarters at around 19:00.

According to Abdallah, during a hundreds-strong march on the local governor’s office, a group of protesters tore down a banner bearing the slogan of the Muslim Brotherhood and the FJP outside the party’s headquarters. Young FJP members who had been guarding the building responded by hurling rocks at the protesters, after which the latter responded in kind. Some protesters from the march, according to Abdallah, were eventually able to contain the situation.

The FJP in Fayoum later released a statement saying that protesters had fired shotguns loaded with birdshot at party members and attempted to storm the building. The allegations were denied, however, by the revolutionary groups who had called for the march, along with Abdallah himself who says he had been at the scene.

20:05 NSF spokesman Khaled Daoud condemns “all forms of violence and assaults on public entities.” In an interview with Al-Ahram’s Arabic-language news website, he asserts that the NSF-organised march - which had set out from the Rabaa Al-Adawya Mosque to the palace - had been a peaceful one and had remained so.

“The Front urges young activists present at the palace to refrain from committing acts of violence and employ exclusively peaceful methods,” Daoud said. He added that the NSF also urged security forces and presidential guards to show self-restraint and use only “legitimate means” when dealing with protesters.

20:03 Mohamed Sultan, CEO of the ‘Ambulance Egypt’ agency, reports 14 injuries in the Presidential Palace parameter until now as a result of ongoing clashes. He added that the injured had been transferred to the Manshiat Al-Bakary and Heliopolis Hospital, along with another 12 cases of teargas inhalation.

19:36 The Muslim Brotherhood issues a statement urging the political forces that called for Friday’s protests to depart from the premises of the Presidential Palace so as to avoid the potential “for violence.” The group goes on to deny rumours that it planned to mobilise members to come to the defence of the beleaguered palace.

19:35 Violence escalates at the Presidential Palace, reports Ahram Online's Bel Trew at the scene.

"There are chaotic scenes here. In the last 20 minutes Central Security Forces stationed outside the palace main gates staged a massive offensive pushing protesters all the way down the street,” Trew reports.

“A continuous stream of teargas canisters is being fired at protesters, who are throwing the missiles into the nearby Heliopolis Sporting Club,” she adds. “Anti-government demonstrators fleeing the scene remain defiant, however, as chants of "The people demand the fall of the regime" filter through the plumes of toxic gas.”

Trew adds: “I saw police take down tents belonging to an anti-Morsi sit-in by the palace gates and set fire to the remains of the camp. Protesters keep pushing forward, only to face more gas."

19:30 The presidency releases a statement condemning the assault on the Presidential Palace that occurred Friday evening.

“The presidency asserts that all acts of vandalism have nothing to do with the principles of [Egypt’s] revolution,” read the statement, which went on to hold certain political forces responsible for instigating the assault.

The statement also called on all national forces to condemn such acts of vandalism and “urge their supporters to leave the palace’s premises.”

“Security forces will ensure that the law is enforced and state property protected,” added the statement.

19:24 The Evangelical Church in Cairo’s Heliopolis district - not far from the Presidential Palace - says it will set up a field hospital for injured protesters.

On its official Facebook page, the Egyptian Popular Current led by Hamdeen Sabbahi calls on its members near the Presidential Palace to intervene in an effort to “calm things down” between protesters so as to maintain the demonstrations’ peaceful character.

19:18 According to President Morsi’s official facebook page, a statement will soon be released by the president’s office. No further information is given.

19:15 Thousands of protesters remain assembled near the Presidential Palace but remain at a safe distance due to the continuous use of teargas by security forces. Protesters, for their part, continue to shoot fireworks at security personnel, Osman El-Sharnoubi reports.

“An armoured vehicle is now moving closer, firing volleys of teargas at protesters,” added Osman.

19:10 Security forces remove protesters’ tents that were erected outside the Presidential Palace before torching them.

19:05 According to the Freedom and Justice Party’s official Facebook page, four bullet-proof armoured vehicles were deployed by security forces near the presidential palace as clashes intensified.

19:00 Thousands are gathered at Ahly club stadium to commemorate the 72 Ahly football fans who were killed in last year’s Port Said football massacre. Present at the commemoration were families of the slain.

18:55 The April 6 Youth Movement has announced on its official Twitter account that it withdrew from the presidential palace when the clashes started and has nothing to do with what is going on there.

The April 6 Democratic Front also withdrew in protest at the use of violence.

 “The protests started peacefully, the security even withdrew inside the palace; however, we were surprised to see the use of violence by some people,” Mohamed Youssef, spokesman of the 6 April Democratic Front told CBC channel, condemning the violence and stressing that the revolution had always been a peaceful one.

18:50 Hundreds of protesters are heading from Tahrir Square to the Shura Council in a rally . There are reports that the protesters will start a sit-in.

In the Delta city of Kafr El-Sheikh, 18 protesters and CSF soldiers were injured during clashes between protesters and police forces, reports Al-Ahram Arabic website. Clashes reportedly intensifed when police forces fired a heavy round of teargas at protesters, who hurled rocks at security forces during the protest in front of the governorate headquarters.

Five protesters were reportedly arrested during the clashes.

18:45 It seems as though the situation at the presidential palace is getting more tense, with lots of teargas being fired and protesters lighting flares and throwing Molotov cocktails.

Ahram Online’s Bel Trew reports that two or three hundred people are in front of the palace, and they have been pushed back to where the security baricade used to be in front of the Heliopolis Club. Three or four Central Security Forces armoured vehicles are facing the protesters, and police behind them are intermittendly firing teargas at the protesters. Ten ambulances are stationed nearby, with no confirmation of any injuries so far.

Protesters are defiantly chanting “Leave means go” according to Trew. 

18:30 Ahram Online’s Osman El-Sharnoubi says protesters are starting to move away from the palace en masse as more tear gas is fired and armoured security vehicles are moving in the direction of protesters.

18:20 Teargas is being fired close to the presidential palace's main gate, reports Ahram Online's Osman El-Sharnoubi. 

18:00 Some minor clashes have started at the presidential palace in Heliopolis between protesters and security forces.

According to Ahram Online’s Salma Shukrallah, Molotov cocktails are being thrown into the palace gardens, causing a minor fire, while security forces are using water cannons against the protesters. Some protesters are starting to leave, apparently scared off by these incidents.

presidential palace
presidential palace

17:45 Ahram Online's Osman El-Sharnoubi says numbers at the presidential palace are hardly increasing, with protesters attributing the low turnout to the lack of organisation.

"The low numbers are due to bad organisation; Tahrir is packed while only two marches came to the palace," said Ahmed Hanafi, a lawyer and founding member of the Constitution Party.

Craftsman Ahmed Abdel-Basit argued that the low turnout is a result of the Azhar meeting which condemned violence; yesterday’s Azhar inititiave was severely criticised by some revolutionary groups who argued that it “criminalised protests."

17:30 The new player on the protest scene, the Black Bloc, seems to be provoking a variety of responses. ONtv reports that journalist Ali Mohamed Ibrahim from Youm 7 newspaper and website has been arrested is being accused of being a member of the group. Ibrahim is being detained at Qasr El-Nil Police Station.

17:25 Ahram Online’s Osman El-Sharnoubi is seeing the popularity of ‘Black Bloc’ style at the presidential palace, with families buying the masks for their children.

17:20 The ministry of interior released a statement saying that Friday's protests, called for by the opposition, have committed to being peaceful.

A ministry spokesman ministry said that the peacefulness of the protests reflected positively on the security situation on Friday.

"However, a number of people did throw rocks at the security forces in Corniche El-Nil," added the spokesman, who denied that security forces were using birdshot.

"The security forces are doing their best to ensure the safety of protesters and vital premises," he added.

17:10 Ahram Online’s reporter in Port Said, Adam Makary, described the situation in the city.

“A few thousand are gathering in Mansheya Square; it could have been far more but the heavy rain impacted the numbers. I haven’t witnessed that much rain in Egypt ever.”

“It’s been a week since Port Said residents announced their independence from the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood; they are waving the green flag of the Port Said governorate as a symbol of frustration, because because they are upset with government's response to the number of deaths that have taken place here.”

17:00 Revolutionary forces organised a march in Al-Arish city in North Sinai under the banner of “ousting the regime and the Supreme Guidance rule” (a reference to the Supreme Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood) reported Al-Ahram Arabic website.

A march started from Al-Rifaei Mosque in Al-Horreya Square to the national council in 26 July Street. The police secured the march with a number of armoured vehicles and police cars.

Protesters are demanding the continuation of the revolution to achieve the revolution’s demands, formulating a legal committee to amend the constitution, resignation of the current prosecutor-general, resignation of Prime Minister Hisham Qandil's government, formulation of a national salvation government, legalising the Muslim Brotherhood and subjecting the group to the laws and guidelines that govern legal organisations, and the investigation of the deaths of Egyptian soldiers defending Egypt’s borders.  

16:50 In Alexandria, the Ultras Devils, the hardcore fans of Ahly football club, are holding a rally on the Corniche to commemorate the victims of the Port Said stadium violence.

Meanwhile, in Cairo, Ahram Online’s Osman El-Sharnoubi says that a spokesman of the Popular Current and member of the NSF Hussein Abdel-Ghani is speaking at the podium in front of the presidential palace, saying: “No dialogue until the blood shed ends.”

Bel Trew was in Tahrir a little while ago, speaking to some of the protesters who had been holding down the fort before the big marches arrived. She spoke to Dr. Ibrahim, a neurologist from Meet Ghamr.

"I use to be part of the 'couch party', even sympathetic to the Brotherhood, but ever since the referendum it's apparent that they are only keen to further their own interests. When so much of the country objected to the constitution and the constitutional decree Morsi should have stepped down, not pushed the national charter through by means of electoral fraud.

As you can see here in Tahrir we're unaffiliated. These coalitions that are marching on the palace are political groups with political agendas. We're here in the square to make Egypt a better place, standing up for the individual, for bread for the simple Egyptian."

16:45 In the Nile Delta city of Mahalla El-Kobra, hundreds of protesters are demonstrating in front of the city council. Members of the Black Bloc group made human shields around the protesters to protect them “from attacks from the supporters of the Brotherhood,” reported Al-Ahram Arabic news website.

16:40 Sara El-Rashidi has been talking to protesters in the marches to the presidential palace. Actress Saffa Turkey told her that she joined the protests to call for the fall of the regime.

“I am with the revolution and I want a civilian president. I am against a theocratic regime because I believe religion is something between a person and God,” Turkey said.

She also condemned the recent attacks on female protesters.

“Women are the heroes of this revolution and are not scared,” she said. “They will continue to fight.

16:30 Speaking in front of thousands at the presidential palace is former presidential candidate Khaled Ali, reports Ahram Online’s Osman El-Sharnoubi.

“Violence won’t do any good, just like it didn’t do any good for Mubarak,” said Ali, directing his words to President Mohamed Morsi: “The people want to overthrow the regime!”

16:15 The April 6 Youth Movement and the Popular Current rallies have reached Tahrir Square chanting “leave, leave” and “the people want to topple the regime.”

16:10 The Muslim Brotherhood’s official English website has published a statement by its media spokesperson Ahmed Arif, welcoming the opposition’s call for dialogue and an end to violence made by Mohamed ElBaradei and the NSF.

Arif made his statements in reference to the Azhar initiative to stop violence launched on Thursday and joined by the NSF.

However, Arif rejected any preconditions for dialogue imposed by the NSF.

"Dialogue will bring together representatives of the NSF with the President. It must be done without such preconditions or presumptions as previously made by the NSF,” Arif told MENA news agency.  

16:05 Ahmed El-Borei, a leading member of the NSF, has announced that the opposition group intends to begin an open-ended sit-in at the presidential palace.

16:00 The march from Shubra has just arrived at Tahrir Square, chanting:

"Come on Morsi, leave the palace. We are the youth freeing Egypt, the revolution is the youth’s revolution not the salvation front’s or the Brotherhood guide's revolution; I swear that Morsi destroyed beautiful Egypt."

Another group of protesters arrives holding a Morsi doll, pictures of some Islamic sheikhs, and a large model dinosaur bearing a sign reading 'Al-Nahda’s bird - get lost.’ The reference is to the Brotherhood’s national development Nahda (Renaissance) project.

15:50 Just off Tahrir Square, Ahram Online's Bel Trew has been catching up with the Operation Anti-Sexual Harassment team, patrolling the streets after at least 19 women were violently sexually assaulted last Friday.

"The teams are trying a new tactic today that is more organised. Everyone has a specific role. Last time all the volunteers got hurt, I was injured in knee, the girls we rescued were in a terrible state. Six had to go to hospital, one had been stabbed in her genital area.”

“Last Friday, during one attack, we tried to get one girl out of a mob of 150 men. A vendor on Tahrir tried to help by setting butane gas on fire, which caused chaos.”

“Today, I'm part of the intervention team; my shift is from 3pm-2am. Our job is to get the girl out. There is also a 'safety team' - we rendez-vous with them once we've rescued the girl, they have clothes, a first aid kit and other women in the team who have been attacked themselves to offer psychological support.”

“Usually when we find the girls they are topless or their trousers have been removed. In a couple of cases volunteers have had to take off their own clothes to clothe the attacked woman.
Establishing trust with the victim is very important - we keep saying our names and who we're working with to reassure them. We're hoping today we won't see these violent attacks.” Ahmed Aggour, 25, Operation Anti-Sexual Harassment volunteer.  

15:45 Egyptian sheikh Youssef El-Qaradawi said in a Friday speech at Omar Ibn Al-Khattab Mosque in Doha that "all Egyptians should reconcile and unify their stand before the country collapses."

He also said that the Black Bloc groups are adopting violence and "are corrupting the land."

“It is unfair of you to stay like this; reconcile with God, reconcile with yourselves. We are the sons of one country, we want to build Egypt."

The prominent Islamic scholar said that remnants of the former regime and some of the groups calling for violence used the second anniversary of the revolution to cause chaos in the country because they "want evil for Egypt."

He also welcomed the initiative by Al-Azhar for rejecting and denouncing violence.

15:30 Thousands of protesters in Alexandria have blocked Suez Canal Street, halting traffic and chanting “Down with Morsi Mubarak.”

Last Friday, thousands of demonstrators in the coastal city blocked off several main roads including Abu-Qir road, the tram pathways and two lines of the Sidi Gaber train station.

At Qaed Ibrahim mosque, groups of citizens have formed a human shield to protect Bab Sharq police station from a nearby rally.  

15:20 Muslim Brotherhood spokesman Mahmoud Ghozlan has denied circulating reports that the Muslim Brotherhood is mobilising its members to come to a mosque near to the presidential palace.

15:15 In Suez, a march of hundreds has begun from Arbeen Square amid heavy rains and is heading to the governorate’s headquarters. According to Ahram correspondent Sayed Noun, the protesters are holding kafan – the cloth used in to wrap the bodies of the dead before Islamic burial.

The protesters are demanding that the Head of Security in Suez by tried for the murder of at least ten protesters in the latest violence. 

15:10 Street vendors are selling Black Bloc masks in Tahrir Square. Ahram Online’s Simon Hanna reports that he saw a woman buying one for her 8-year-old son.

Black Bloc masks
Street vendors are selling Black Bloc masks in Tahrir Square. (Photo: Simon Hanna)

"The Brotherhood asked its members in nearby governorates to gather in Al-Rahman Al-Raheem Mosque for any emergency that might call for their intervention," reported Turkish Anadolu news agency.
A couple of thousand Brotherhood's members have gathered at Al-Rahman Al-Raheem mosque, which is close to the presidential palace, the agency reported.

Muslim Brotherhood youth activist Ahmed El-Mogheer, accused of involvement in attacks on protesters at the presidential palace in December, posted on Twitter earlier this morning:

“A blessed Friday; with God’s will we will get rid of the National Destruction Front [referring to the National Salvation Front) and its terrorist militias , say Amen.”  

15:05 Protests are taking place in Al-Mahata Square in Qena, upper Egypt, to call for the ouster of President Morsi, dissolving the Muslim Brotherhood's guidance office, and not giving up Suez Canal to any entity. Protesters are also declaring solidarity with Port Said governorate, according to Al-Ahram Arabic website.

"We are with you, Port Said from Upper Egypt," chanted protesters.

The Popular Current, Mina Daniel movement and members of the Revolutionary Youth Coalition in Qena participated in the protests.

Protester Ahmed Bereir told Al-Ahram Arabic that "we demand the constitution is amended, that [Prime Minister] Qandil’s government resigns, the removal of the rule of the [Muslim Brotherhood’s] Supreme Guide and not implementing Israel, America and Qatar's strategies in the Suez Canal."

15:00 Meanwhile, protests in the city of Suez have been postponed because of heavy rain, which also led to the temporary closure of several ports.

14:50 Military spokesman Ahmed Ali posted a video to the armed forces’ official Facebook page, stating that the armed forces are supporting the interior ministry to maintain security, regain stability in the Suez Canal cities, and to secure vital locations and strategic properties.

14:40 In Port Said, Adam Makary says that the protesters who left the march to go to the security building are rejoining the other marchers.

"Whoever loves Port Said, turn around" protesters now rejoining the march and army securing the police headquarters (Photo: Adam Makary)

14:30 Over to Alexandria, Egypt’s second largest city, where thousands of protesters are marching from downtown Qaed Ibrahim Mosque to Suez Canal square, one the city’s main traffic routes. This is reportedly the first time that Alexandrians have marched this route since January 25 2011, according to Al-Ahram Arabic website.

There have apparently been some disagreements about where the march should head, with some refusing to go near the Alexandria governorate headquarters because of previous clashes at the site between security forces and protesters. 

14:25 Today also marks the first anniversary of the Port Said massacre, when more than 70 Ahly football fans were killed at the close of a match in the town’s stadium between local team Masry and Cairo giants Ahly.

The family of Karim Khozam, one of those killed last year in Port Said, are taking part in a traditional commemoration ceremony at the Qalb Yasou Church in Heliopolis. A banner with a picture of Khozam and a sentence that reads “we will not forget you Karim” hangs at the church entrance.

A banner with a picture of Khozam and a sentence that reads “we will not forget you Karim” hangs at the church entrance. (Photo: Nazly Hussein )

14:20 Over in Port Said, Adam Makary tells us that several hundred protesters have broken off from the main march to gather outside the Port Said security directorate.  

14:15 Hundreds of protesters have begun marching from El-Rabia El-Adaweya to the presidential palace. They are chanting “down with the Brotherhood” “end your rule Morsi, you Pharaoh,” and “no to religious rule” reports Ahram Online’s Sara El-Rashidi.

Some protesters wearing orange bands have formed groups to secure the march. A member of the group, Amgad Hosny, said that he has not seen any problems so far.

“But the Brotherhood are trying to drag people into arguments,” he told El-Rashidi.

Hosny advised protesters to stay close to the march and asked women to dress conservatively.

14:10 Several marches to Tahrir Square have begun from different areas in Cairo, including Sayeda Zeinab, a working class district close to downtown, and Mostafa Mahmoud Mosque in middle class Mohandeseeen. A march has also begun from Abbasiya heading to the presidential palace in Heliopolis.

Friday prayers at Mariam Mosque in Port Said (Photo: Adam Makary)

14:00 The Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party is organising a celebration under the title "a day in love of the Prophet" on Friday evening in Luxor. 

Event coordinator Mohamed Fahmy said that a number of Islamic singers and Luxor’s cultural palace cultural centre staff will participate in the celebration.

Fahmy also confirmed that Luxor's governor, representatives of the Coptic Orthodox Church and a number of charities will attend the ceremony.

13:50  Head of the Constitution Party, Mohamed ElBaradei posts on his Twitter account:

“We brought down the Mubarak regime through a peaceful revolution and we insist on achieving our goals via the same method regardless of what the sacrifices will be or how savage the oppression may be. Our strength is in our unity, numbers and peacefulness.”

ElBaradei is a founding member of the National Salvation Front, which was among the political groups that called for today’s rallies. The NSF has also joined the Azhar initiative to stop the violence which was launched Thursday amidst escalating clashes between protesters and police across Egypt.

The initiative and those agreeing to it were however harshly criticised by some revolutionaries who interpreted the Azhar document as a criminalization of protests. A statement released by dozens of activists said the document released by the initiative’s conference equated police violence with protests. 

13:40 Ahram Online's reporter in Port Said, Adam Makary, tells us that a few thousand protesters are approaching Al-Shohada square in front of the Port Said governorate building.

Mohamed Ismail, a 52-year-old university professor, tells Makary:

“The foreign hand that the army were warning the country about was the Muslim Brotherhood and now they are in power. We don’t want them. I didn’t vote for Morsi- the whole world has to know that Morsi is not the choice of the people. He was the choice people had to make at a certain time, but he is not the choice of the people. He must go.”  

13:30 Tahrir imam Mohamed Abdallah Nassr condemned Islamist political groups “using religion for political gains” during his sermon before Friday prayers in the square.

Nassr described President Mohamed Morsi as an “illegitimate” president, adding that a leader should take money from the rich to give to the poor, providing them with the basic necessities.

The imam further defended the Black Bloc, saying that the “real terrorists” were the “regime and its militias.”

Nassr typically gives the Friday sermon and leads prayers in the centre of the iconic square on days when mass demonstrations are planned. Previously, Sheikh Mazhar Shahin of the Omar Makram Mosque (on the edge of the square) would act as the imam on Fridays.

Nassr is part of the Azhar movement calling for a civil (i.e. non-theocratic) state. He is known to be an outspoken critic of the Muslim Brotherhood.  

13:15 Amr Moussa, the head of the Conference Party and one of the leaders of opposition umbrella group the National Salvation Front, asked the protesters in a statement on Friday "to protect the people and state property, and to keep the marches peaceful."

Moussa, who was a foreign minister under Mubarak, also asked the government to protect the protesters and their right to protest, securing public and private properties since "the government is responsible for that."

"We don’t want blood, we don’t want destruction, we want freedom of expression and democracy, we want efficient management, we want a respectable state, and we want to regain a strong Egypt."

13:00 In Port Said, thousands have started marching from Mariam Mosque in the pouring rain chanting: “With our soul and blood, we will defend you, Port Said,” reports Ahram Online’s Adam Makary.

Cairo has also seen a fair bit of rain this morning, with more expected throughout the day. It remains to be seen how the weather will affect protests and marches planned for Friday.

12:45 Ahram Online's reporter in Port Said, Adam Makary, tells us that protesters will be gathering at different mosques across Port Said, mainly at Mariam Mosque which is by the port, metres away from the football stadium. Several thousand protesters are already present.

Makary added that the hardcore football fans, the Ultras, from Ismailia and Suez are expected to join a Friday of Deliverance march that will start from various mosques, convene by the stadium and then make its way to Mansheya Square, where a stage is being set up to mark the one year anniversary of the killings that occurred at Port Said stadium last year.

12:30 Tahrir Square is calm so far this morning, with only a few dozens protesters present. Ambulances are situated in the adjacent Simon Bolivar Square in order to receive any injured protesters should violence erupt.

At El-Rabia El-Adaweya Mosque in Nasr City, protesters are preparing for the Friday prayers. Following the prayers, they will march to the presidential palace in the nearby suburb of Heliopolis. According to Ahram Online reporter Sarah El-Rashidi, only 100 protesters have shown up so far.

One protester, Ingy Abaza, said that she will join the march to demand that President Morsi steps down from power.

“We cannot get rid of the Brotherhood because they are part of our society,” Abaza said. “But we want Morsi to go. He has done nothing for the country. We want a civilian president who represents all factions of society and not just the Brotherhood.” 

12:20 President Morsi will perform Friday prayers amid intensified security at Al-Farouq Mosque in New Cairo, the upmarket suburb on the outskirts of Cairo where he lives, reports Al-Watan website.

12:15 Good afternoon. We open our live coverage of the "Friday of Deliverance" demonstrations across Egypt. 

Nationwide anti-government protests called for by 16 political parties and movements including opposition coalition the National Salvation Front (NSF) will take place Friday reiterating the "demands of the revolution."

As part of the "Friday of Deliverance" event, protesters are expected to march on the presidential palace in Cairo's Heliopolis district, as well as to Tahrir Square. There will be additional rallies in other governorates including Alexandria, Suez, Ismailia, Mansoura, Damanhour, Kafr El-Sheikh, Qena, Fayoum and Aswan.

Meanwhile in Port Said, the Masry "Green Eagle" Ultras, the hardcore fans of local football club Masry, will mark the first anniversary of the 1 February football massacre that saw over 70 rival Ahly fans killed at Port Said stadium following a Masry Ahly match, by holding prayers in the stadium where the tragedy took place.

Among the demands of the protesters are the dismissal of the current government, amendment of the recently-approved constitution and the appointment of a new prosecutor-general.

Parties and groups that took part in the conference included the Egyptian Popular Current, the Popular Socialist Alliance, the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, the April 6 Youth Movement (Democratic Front), the Free Egyptians Party, the Revolutionary Socialist Party, the Karama Party, the Kefaya movement and the National Association For Change.

Meanwhile, 12 professional syndicates – including the doctors', teachers' and lawyers' syndicates – voiced sympathy with calls for Friday's anti-government protests.

Three cities of Egypt's Suez Canal are currently subject to a month-long state of emergency declared by President Mohamed Morsi on Sunday following three days of deadly unrest.

Morsi later, however, allowed the governors of the three cities to ease the curfew in their respective cities in accordance with the local security situation.

Ismailia and Suez have both witnessed anti-government protests and sporadic clashes since the second anniversary of Egypt's January 25 Revolution on Friday. In Suez, nine people – including one police conscript – were killed, while at least one civilian was killed in Ismailia.

On Saturday, a criminal court sentenced 21 Port Said residents to death for their involvement in last February's Port Said stadium disaster.

The harsh verdicts prompted riots and clashes in the already-tense city, in which 37 people were reported killed. 

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