Fatal clashes on Egypt uprising anniversary

Protesters gathered in their thousands in demonstrations across the country

Egyptian opposition supporters are protesting across the country on the second anniversary of the uprising that swept Hosni Mubarak from power, with five people killed in the city of Suez.

Police clashed with President Mohammed Morsi's opponents in Cairo outside his palace and near Tahrir Square.

Alexandria also saw clashes. In Ismailia, protesters set fire to the HQ of the Muslim Brotherhood's party.

Critics accuse Mr Morsi of betraying the revolution, which he denies.

The president has appealed for calm to end the clashes, in which at least 379 people have been injured in 12 of the country's 27 regions.

Concrete walls

On Friday, police fired tear gas to disperse protesters who had tried to cross barbed-wire barriers outside the presidential palace in Cairo, state TV reported. Protesters' tents were also dismantled.

Earlier, some protesters erected checkpoints at the entrances to Tahrir Square to verify the identities of people passing through. Others set up an exhibition of photographs of those killed at various protests over the past two years.

Protesters in Alexandria - 25 January Protesters have been throwing stones and burning tyres in Alexandria

"Our revolution is continuing. We reject the domination of any party over this state. We say no to the Brotherhood state," leftist leader Hamdeen Sabahi told the Reuters news agency, referring to the Islamist movement to which Mr Morsi belongs.

A protester called Hany Ragy told the BBC: "I voted for Morsi because I did not want to see someone from the last regime in power again. But he has not fulfilled his promises. The economy has crumbled."

"I am here to put pressure on the government to enact proper reform."

The roads leading from Tahrir Square to several nearby government buildings and foreign embassies have been blocked by concrete walls since last November.

Demonstrators tried to dismantle one of them on Thursday night, but a new wall was built to block entry to the Cabinet headquarters.

Start Quote

The only thing that changed after two years of the revolution is that our president has a beard”

End Quote Farahat Mohsen Painter

The unrest continued overnight. On Friday, Nile TV reported worsening clashes outside the interior ministry.

The BBC's Aleem Maqbool in Tahrir Square says there are now large numbers of protesters there, but that the violence is restricted to a small corner of it, where teenagers are throwing stones at the parliament building.

People are now applying the same chants to Mr Morsi that they did two years ago for Mr Mubarak, our correspondent adds.

There are reports that opposition supporters have blocked railway lines leading both to the north and south out of Cairo.

Smaller rallies are taking place in other cities, including Alexandria, Ismailia, Suez and Port Said.

Medical sources said five people had been killed by gunfire in Suez.

It was not clear whether the dead were police or civilians.

Egypt's revolution

  • 25 January 2011: Campaign of mass protests against Hosni Mubarak launched
  • 11 February 2011: Mubarak steps down as president, handing over to the military
  • November 2011-January 2012: Parliamentary elections held; Islamists emerge as winners
  • 2 June 2012: Mubarak convicted over killing of protesters and given life sentence
  • 17 June 2012: Muslim Brotherhood's Mohammed Morsi narrowly wins presidential election
  • 15 December 2012: Constitution drafted by Islamist-led body approved in referendum
  • 13 January 2013: Appeals court orders Mubarak retrial

Earlier state TV showed protesters in the city throwing stones at public buildings as motorcycles carried injured people away. Mena news agency said 12 police were injured in the city.

In Ismailia, witnesses said youths had broken into and ransacked the offices of the Freedom and Justice Party, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, before setting fire to it.

The city's governorate headquarters was later also stormed.

Clashes were reported in at least two locations in Alexandria, with police firing tear gas and protesters burning tyres. At least 10 people were reportedly injured.

"The smoke is black, there is a lot of gas. There are people on the ground because they can't breathe," one demonstrator told AFP.

The Muslim Brotherhood has not officially called for its own street rallies. It plans to mark the revolution by launching charitable and social initiatives.

'Bread and freedom'

One of the demonstrators at Tahrir Square, Hanna Abu el-Ghar, told the BBC: "We are protesting against the fact that after two years of the revolution, where we asked for bread, freedom and social justice, none of our dreams have come true."

The liberal opposition accuses Mr Morsi of being autocratic and driving through a new constitution that does not protect adequately freedom of expression or religion.

Protester Hany Ragy: "We feel our revolution has been stolen"

Ahead of Friday's rally Mohamed ElBaradei, a leading opposition figure, said is a statement: "I call on everyone to take part and go out to every place in Egypt to show that the revolution must be completed."

The government is also being blamed for a deepening economic crisis.

The president has dismissed the opposition's claims as unfair, instead calling for a national dialogue.

Former President Hosni Mubarak is currently in detention at a military hospital. An appeals court recently overturned the 84-year-old's life sentence over the deaths of protesters and ordered a retrial.

Egyptian protester
Anti-government protests in Egypt Egypt's revolution began on 25 January 2011, the "Day of Revolt", when tens of thousands of marchers occupied Cairo's Tahrir Square to protest against President Hosni Mubarak and his government. Simultaneous protests were held across the country. In the following days, demonstrations became more violent, coming to a climax with running clashes in Cairo between pro- and anti-government demonstrators.
Election celebrations in Egypt Despite efforts by the authorities to disperse the protesters, they refused to move and set up camp in Tahrir Square. On 4 February, dubbed the "Day of Departure", hundreds of thousands of people demonstrated in Cairo demanding Mr Mubarak leave office. But it took another week for the president to accept his fate. He finally agreed to step aside on 11 February after protesters marched on the Presidential Palace.
Military rulers in Egypt After Mr Mubarak’s departure, Egypt’s parliament was dissolved and the country’s constitution suspended. The Supreme Council of Egyptian Armed Forces declared it would hold power for six months or until elections could be held. But while major protests subsided, uncertainty about the country’s future meant many protesters continued to return to Tahrir Square, calling for their demands for change to be met.
Egyptian protesters Tensions soon built between the pro-democracy movement and the new military leadership. Protesters were drawn again to Tahrir Square to press military rulers to keep promises on political reform. Demonstrations turned violent. However, despite the unrest, voting in parliamentary elections took place between November 2011 and January 2012, with the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Freedom and Justice Party taking almost half the share of votes.
Mohammed Mursi supporters Newly-elected representatives of the People’s Assembly - parliament's lower house - met for the first time in January 2012 and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces transferred legislative authority to them. However, a court later dissolved the assembly amid accusations that it was dominated by Islamists. Despite this, in May, voting began in Egypt’s first free presidential election, with the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammed Morsi declared the winner in June.
Egyptian protester The Islamist president’s first months in office were marked by political tensions and street protests. One of his first acts was to issue a decree overruling the court decision to dissolve parliament. The move effectively placed a panel tasked with writing the new constitution above judicial review. Amid public outrage, Mr Morsi later rescinded most of his decree, but still pushed ahead with a referendum on the draft constitution, which was approved in December.
Egyptian shop Opposition groups continue to accuse Mr Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood backers of betraying the goals of the revolution. They want to see radical changes to Egypt's newly-adopted constitution, which they say fails to guarantee personal freedoms and rights for women and minorities. Parliamentary elections in 2013 are likely to set the stage for yet another electoral battle between surging Islamists and their fractious liberal and leftist opponents.

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