Fierce Police Backlash Signals 'Long Night' Ahead in Tahrir Square
Scores injured and fatalities reported: 'The police are behaving the same as they did during the Mubarak years'
Several fatalities were reported and scores of people wounded in cities across Egypt today as pro-democracy rallies faced fierce backlash from government forces.
At least 186 people have been wounded since the start of the day's demonstrations in Cairo, Alexandria and Suez, according to an official with the Egyptian emergency services. At least five people have been killed in the city of Suez, Al-Arabiya reports.
In Cairo, police fired tear gas at protesters after the tried to breach the barrier surrounding Egypt’s Interior Ministry, an RT correspondent reported. Earlier in the day, images on twitter show police setting fire to protestors tents in Tahrir Squar.
#Cairo is the centre of my universe.Home, stinking of tear gas,eyes stinging, feet killing me,happy.Sounds like entire country tear gassed.
— Mona Eltahawy (@monaeltahawy) January 25, 2013
Earlier reports said protesters had completely cleared the square because of the heavy cloud of painful teargas in the air. However, recent tweets reveal, "protesters returned and seems like it will be a long night #JAN25."
Clashes broke out elsewhere, as well. In Alexandria, police fired tear gas at protesters who stood in human chains around the al-Qaed Ibrahim mosque, Al Jazeera reports.
Al Jazeera adds:
Protesters surrounded the governorate building in Damietta and in the Nile Delta city of Kafr el-Sheikh they stormed the courtyard of the governorate leading to clashes.
And in Suez, where the fatalities occurred, clashes erupted as hundreds of protesters were forced back from the government building by police firing teargas, RT reports.
More images from the day can be seen here.
Major demonstrations across Egypt are taking place Friday against the ruling government, led by the Muslim Brotherhood and its Freedom and Justice Party, a full two years after secular and liberal activists forced the long-standing Mubarak regime from power.
Reports of clashes were coming from Tahrir Square as supporters of the 'pro-democracy revolution' continue their struggle for reform by turning their political and social critique against President Mohamed Morsi, the still dominant military class, and a newly approved constitution that they say does not embody the revolutionary values they fought for.
"We are here today to celebrate the anniversary of the revolution, and make it clear to the government that things are still as they were before the revolution," Ayman al-Diasty, spokesperson for the April 6 movement, one of the leading reform groups still active in its push for deeper change, told the Egypt Independent.
— Kirsten van den Hul (@thechangeagent) January 25, 2013
Al-Jazeera reports on the demonstration, some of which turned violent, in Cairo:
Hundreds took to the capital's now iconic Tahrir Square on Friday morning, where youths protesting against the government clashed with Cairo police.
The ministry of health said 16 people were wounded in the violence.
A witness, speaking to the Reuters news agency, said at one point riot police used one of the incendiaries thrown at them to set ablaze at least two tents erected by the youths.
Tahrir square, which was the epicentre of the 2011 protests, is expected to further fill with crowds who oppose the government of Mohamed Morsi, the president.
The Guardian, which is providing live updates here, shared this report from Patrick Kingsley, their correspondent on the ground in Tahrir:
There's trouble down at the southern end of Tahrir Square, as police and hundreds of protesters take it in turns to lob meaty chunks of rubble over two makeshift walls built to protect the Interior Ministry from attack.
It's personal, says one of the stone-throwers, Karim Ali — revenge for the protesters killed by police since 2011. "The police are behaving the same as they did during the Mubarak years," says Ali, carrying a slingshot.
During particularly violent volleys, the crowd surges back to avoid being hit. Some aren't so lucky and are treated for head-wounds in the field hospital to the north. Teargas hangs in the air, and young girls walk through the crowd offering tissues to those with tears streaming down their face. Many wear scarves to keep out the gas, and a lucky few have gas masks.
The Egypt Independent adds:
There have been calls for major protests in Upper Egypt, Nile Delta and the North Coast, including the governorates of Aswan, Qena, the Red Sea, Assiut, Minya, Gharbiya, Kafr al-Sheikh, Damietta, Daqahlia, Suez and Alexandria.
Six marches kicked off across Mansoura, the capital of Daqahlia Governorate, after Friday prayers. Hundreds of protesters chanted against the regime and demanded immediate policy reform, particularly concerning the economy.
The Dostour, Strong Egypt, Nasr and Popular Current parties led four marches, while the April 6 Youth Movement and the Revolutionary Socialists led the other two, chanting "one hand." The atmosphere became tense when one march passed a Muslim Brotherhood-sponsored fair handing out food to celebrate the revolution.