Egyptian police throw stones at protesters during clashes
in Alexandria on the second anniversary of the revolt that
toppled Hosni Mubarak and brought the election of an
Islamist president whom protesters accuse of riding
roughshod over the new democracy. REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih
Protesters have clashed with police across Egypt on the
second anniversary of the revolt that toppled Hosni Mubarak,
taking to the streets against the elected Islamist president
who they accuse of betraying the revolution.
At least 91 civilians and 42 security personnel were hurt in
violence across the country, officials said. Street battles
erupted in Cairo, Alexandria, Suez and Port Said, where the
Muslim Brotherhood's political party offices were torched.
Thousands of opponents of President Mohamed Mursi and his
Muslim Brotherhood allies massed in Cairo's Tahrir Square -
the cradle of the uprising against Mubarak - to revive the
demands of a revolution they say has been hijacked by the
The Jan. 25 anniversary showcased the divide between the
Islamists and their secular foes that is hindering Mursi's
efforts to revive an economy in crisis and reverse a plunge
in Egypt's currency by enticing back investors and tourists.
Inspired by Tunisia's ground-breaking popular uprising,
Egypt's revolution spurred further revolts across the Arab
world. But the sense of common purpose that united Egyptians
two years ago has given way to internal strife that has only
worsened and last month triggered lethal street battles.
"It's definitely tense on the ground, but so far there hasn't
been anything out of the ordinary or anything that really
threatens to fundamentally alter the political situation,"
said Shadi Hamid, director of research at the Brookings Doha
The Brotherhood decided against mobilising for the
anniversary, wary of the scope for more conflict after
violence in December that was stoked by Mursi's decision to
fast-track an Islamist-tinged constitution rejected by his
The Brotherhood fiercely denies accusations of trampling on
democracy as part of a smear campaign by its rivals.
Before dawn on Friday, police battled protesters who threw
petrol bombs and firecrackers as they tried to approach a
wall blocking access to government buildings near Tahrir
Clouds of tear gas filled the air. At one point, riot police
used one of the incendiaries thrown at them to set ablaze at
least two tents erected by the youths, a Reuters witness
Skirmishes between stone-throwing youths and the police
continued in streets around the square into the day.
Ambulances ferried away a steady stream of casualties.
"Our revolution is continuing. We reject the domination of
any party over this state. We say no to the Brotherhood
state," Hamdeen Sabahy, a popular leftist leader, told
There were similar scenes in Suez and Alexandria, where
protesters and riot police clashed near local government
offices. Black smoke billowed from tyres set ablaze by
Police also fired tear gas to disperse dozens of protesters
who tried to scale barbed-wire barriers protecting the
presidential palace in Cairo, witnesses said. Other
protesters broke into offices of provincial governors in
Ismailia, east of Cairo, and Kafr el-Sheikh in the Nile
In Tahrir Square, protesters echoed the chants of 2011's
historic 18-day uprising. "The people want to bring down the
regime," they chanted. "Leave! Leave! Leave!" chanted others
as they marched towards the square.
"We are not here to celebrate but to force those in power to
submit to the will of the people. Egypt now must never be
like Egypt during Mubarak's rule," said Mohamed Fahmy, an
BADIE CALLS FOR "PRACTICAL, SERIOUS COMPETITION"
With its eye firmly on forthcoming parliamentary elections,
the Brotherhood marked the anniversary with a charity drive
across the nation. It plans to deliver medical aid to one
million people and distribute affordable basic foodstuffs.
Writing in Al-Ahram, Egypt's flagship state-run daily,
Brotherhood leader Mohamed Badie said the country was in need
of "practical, serious competition" to reform the corrupt
state left by the Mubarak era.
"The differences of opinion and vision that Egypt is passing
through is a characteristic at the core of transitions from
dictatorship to democracy, and clearly expresses the variety
of Egyptian culture," he wrote.
Still, Mursi faces discontent on multiple fronts.
His opponents say he and his group are seeking to dominate
the post-Mubarak order. They accuse him of showing some of
the autocratic impulses of the deposed leader by, for
example, driving through the new constitution last month.
"I am taking part in today's marches to reject the warped
constitution, the 'Brotherhoodisation' of the state, the
attack on the rule of law, and the disregard of the president
and his government for the demands for social justice," Amr
Hamzawy, a prominent liberal politician, wrote on his Twitter
The Brotherhood dismisses many of the criticisms as unfair
fabrications of their rivals, accusing them of failing to
respect the rules of the new democracy that put the Islamists
in the driving seat via free elections.
Six months into office, Mursi is also being held responsible
for an economic crisis caused by two years of turmoil. The
Egyptian pound has sunk to record lows against the dollar.
SOURCES OF FRICTION ABOUND
Other sources of friction abound. Little has been done to
reform brutal Mubarak-era security agencies. A spate of
transport disasters on roads and railways neglected for years
is feeding discontent as well. Activists are impatient for
justice for the victims of violence over the last two years.
These include hardcore soccer fans, or ultras, who have been
rallying in recent days to press for justice for 74 people
killed in a soccer stadium disaster a year ago in Port Said
after a match between local side al-Masry and Cairo's Al
The parties that called for Friday's protests listed demands
including a complete overhaul of the constitution.
Critics say the constitution, which was approved in a
referendum, offers inadequate protection for human rights,
grants the president too many privileges and fails to curb
the power of a military establishment supreme in the Mubarak
Mursi's supporters say that enacting the constitution quickly
was crucial to restoring stability desperately needed for
economic recovery, and that the opposition is making the
situation worse by perpetuating unrest.