Police, youth clash on eve of Egypt revolution anniversary

January 25, 2013 - 2:03:33 am

Tear gas fired by riot police at protesters fills a street during clashes after demonstrators removed a concrete barrier at Qasr Al Aini Street near Tahrir Square in Cairo, yesterday.

CAIRO: Police clashed with protesters here yesterday, eve of the second anniversary of the uprising that overthrew Hosni Mubarak, as they tried to dismantle a security barrier and called for the fall of Islamist President Mohammed Mursi, witnesses said.

A few dozen men and youth tried to dismantle the wall of concrete blocks that blocked a street leading to Tahrir Square, focal point of demonstrations that broke out on January 25, 2010, and led to Mubarak’s resignation 18 days later.

The walls were erected last year to protect numerous buildings housing government and security service offices in the area.

“Down with Mohammed Mursi,” some demonstrators shouted. “Down with the power of the (Supreme) Guide” of the powerful Muslim Brotherhood, from whose ranks Mursi was elected last June. Some demonstrators hurled rocks at riot police positioned a few dozen metres on the other side of the wall, who responded with tear gas grenades.

Mursi’s opponents plan to march to Tahrir Square today to vent anger at the new Islamist leader and his Muslim Brotherhood backers, whom they accuse of betraying the goals of the January 25 revolution that galvanised Egyptians in a display of national unity that has not been seen since.

“We don’t see it as a celebration. This will be a new revolutionary wave that will show the Brotherhood that they are not alone — that there are other forces that can stand against them,” said Ahmed Maher, founder of the April 6 — a group that helped ignite the uprising by using social media to organise.

The National Salvation Front, the largest opposition bloc, has called for rallies “in all the Tahrir Squares of the country”.

Authorities have vowed to keep security forces out of Tahrir Square to decrease the risk of confrontations, but said police would be in the surrounding areas to arrest troublemakers.

The Brotherhood has said it will not send its supporters to Tahrir Square today — a decision that at least limits the scope for more of the unrest. Two years on, Egypt is struggling with a deep economic crisis caused by political turbulence which has continued unabated since the election of a new president. Agencies