Egyptian Protests against Government

Around 50,000 people are expected to protest in Egypt on the January 28th 8:00 am (local time) until January 29th 7:30 am (local time). The event is being organised on Facebook with the following description:

“We will go out rallies in all mosques and churches of Egypt’s main heading on the public squares and sit until we receive our rights usurped. Egypt’s Muslims and Christians alike will emerge to fight corruption and unemployment, injustice and lack of freedom. Will be selected mosques and churches on Thursday night.”

Egypt protests continue into second day despite ban and police presence

January 26th 2011

Running battles between police and anti-government protesters continued in Egypt for a second day, despite the declaration of an official ban by the government on protests and gatherings, and a massive deployment of police in the country’s capital. Riot police and plain clothes officers armed with staves and bars broke up a demonstration outside one of Cairo’s biggest tourist hotels, the Ramses Hilton, on the banks of the river Nile. Tonight groups of demonstrators and police are still playing a violent game of cat and mouse through the city centre’s streets – with protesters quickly re-grouping after being broken up. The sound of police sirens and detonating tear gas canisters could be heard across the city, in the biggest protests against the regime of 82-year-old president Hosni Mubarak in three decades. Protests took place across Egypt, with gatherings broken up by police outside a number of locations in the capital, including Cairo’s supreme court, Nasser metro station and on Ramses Street.

Police continued to round up scores of people, including photographers and reporters covering the demonstrations. The latest clashes occurred on a day when officials announced that 860 people had been rounded up following mass protests against Mubarak on Tuesday, when at least four people died. The crackdown by authorities brought harsh words from European leaders, who expressed concern and said the events underlined the need for democratisation and respect for human and civil rights. One of the toughest comments came from German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle, who said he was “extremely concerned” and called on all involved to show restraint. “We are seeing in the last few weeks that a country’s stability is not endangered by granting civil rights. It is through the refusal of civil and human rights that societies become unstable,” he said in a reference to Tunisia. British foreign secretary William Hague said: “We deeply regret the loss of life in the Egyptian protests. All parties should show restraint and avoid violence. It is important that the government listens to the concerns of those demonstrating and respects rights of freedom of assembly and expression. Openness, transparency and political freedom are important tenets of stability. We urge the government and demonstrators to seek a peaceful way forward.”

Hillary Clinton did not criticise Egypt’s government – a key American ally in the Middle East – saying only that the country was stable and Egyptians have the right to protest while urging all parties to avoid violence. “We believe strongly that the Egypt government has an important opportunity at this moment in time to implement political, economic and social reforms that respond to legitimate needs and interests of the Egyptian people,” she said at a news conference with visiting Jordanian foreign minister Nasser Judeh. Many of those demonstrators admit to being inspired by the Jasmine revolution in Tunisia, and have adopted some of the same chants and slogans. As in Tunisia, Egyptian opponents of Mubarak have been quick to utilise social networking sites to organise protests, although those appeared to be working intermittently amid claims – denied by the government – that Facebook, at least, had been shut down. “Mubarak never experienced this level of public anger and such a rejection of his legitimacy in 30 years of power,” said political analyst Issandr El Amrani. “This looks quite bad for him.”

Protests in Egypt

4.40pm GMT January 26th 2011

• There has been a second day of protests in Egypt against the government of Hosni Mubarak. The demonstrators want Mubarak to stand down as president and want the government to provide some solution to the country’s economic problems, including serious poverty, rising prices and high unemployment.

• Police have rounded up 860 protesters since yesterday, the Associated Press is reporting. Again they used tear gas and beatings on the demonstrators. Facebook, Twitter and mobile phones have been sporadically blocked.

• European leaders have criticised Egypt, but Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, did not condemn the Cairo government, a key US ally in the Middle East.

• Anonymous, the group that conducted cyber-attacks in support of WikiLeaks, has threatened to do the same to the Egyptian government if it does not stop censoring the media.

4.31pm: The Associated Press is reporting that 860 protesters have been “rounded up” by police since yesterday. In a report on today’s anti-government demonstrations, which took place in defiance of an official ban, police used tear gas and beat protesters to disperse them. The demonstrators are demanding that Hosni Mubarak stands down as president and the government provides some solution to Egypt’s economic problems, including serious poverty, rising prices and high unemployment.

The news agency reports:

“After nightfall today, more than 2,000 demonstrators were marching on a major downtown boulevard along the Nile when dozens of riot police with helmets and shields charged the crowd. It was a scene repeated throughout the day wherever demonstrators tried to gather. The crackdown by authorities brought harsh words from European leaders, who expressed concern and said the events underline the need for democratisation and respect for human and civil rights. However, US secretary of state Hillary Clinton did not criticise Egypt’s government – a key US ally in the Middle East – but only said the country was stable and Egyptians have the right to protest while urging all parties to avoid violence. Activists used social networking sites to call for fresh demonstrations Wednesday. But Facebook, a key tool used to organize protests, appeared to be at least partially blocked in the afternoon. On Tuesday, Twitter and cell phones appeared to be sporadically blocked as well. The interior ministry warned today that police would not tolerate any gatherings, and thousands were out on the streets poised to crack down quickly on any new signs of unrest after clashes yesterday that killed three demonstrators and one police officer.

Early today, thousands of policemen in riot gear and backed by armored vehicles took up posts in Cairo on bridges across the Nile, at major intersections and squares as well as outside key installations such as the state TV building and the headquarters of Mubarak’s ruling National Democratic Party. Police fired tear gas to disperse a crowd of several hundred activists on a main commercial thoroughfare in central Cairo, chasing them through side streets as both sides pelted each other with rocks with hundreds of onlookers watching anxiously. Earlier, dozens gathered outside the Journalists’ Union in downtown Cairo and renewed the chants heard against Mubarak throughout Tuesday’s much larger protests. “Mubarak is leaving, leaving. Oh Egyptian people, be brave and join us,” they chanted. As police charged the crowd, beating them with sticks, they chanted “peaceful, peaceful.” In the city of Suez east of Cairo, an angry crowd of about 1,000 people gathered outside the city’s morgue demanding to take possession and bury the body of one of three protesters who died in clashes on Tuesday.

In the southern city of Assiut, eyewitnesses said riot police set upon some 100 activists staging an anti-government protest Wednesday, beating them up with batons and arresting nearly half of them. “Down, down Hosni Mubarak,” chanted the crowd. “Oh, people, join us or you will be next.” Security officials said up to 200 protesters were detained early today. More were likely to be detained as authorities review police videotapes of the protests, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to speak to the media.

Egypt protests: Cairo and Suez see clashes with police

Police have clashed with anti-government protesters in two major Egyptian cities following Tuesday’s unprecedented protests, witnesses say. Police broke up demonstrations in central Cairo, beating protesters with batons. Demonstrators also gathered in the eastern city of Suez. Meanwhile security officials said at least 500 people had been arrested in a crackdown against the protests. Public gatherings would no longer be tolerated, the interior ministry said. Anyone taking to the streets against the government would be prosecuted, it added. The BBC’s John Leyne in Cairo says the authorities are responding in familiar fashion, treating a political crisis as a security threat. Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif as saying the government was committed to “freedom of expression by legitimate means”, state news agency Mena reported. Police had acted with restraint, he said. However, Washington called on the Egyptian government to lift its ban on demonstrations.

White House spokesman Robert Gibb said it was important for President Hosni Mubarak to demonstrate “responsiveness” to his people. Protesters have been inspired by the recent uprising in Tunisia, vowing to stay on the streets until the government falls. They have been using social networking sites to call for fresh demonstrations, but both Facebook and microblogging site Twitter appear to have been periodically blocked inside Egypt. The government denied it was blocking the sites. Cabinet spokesman Magdy Rady said it respected freedom of expression and “would not resort to such methods”, Reuters news agency reported.  Following a “day of revolt” across Egypt on Tuesday in which four people died, protesters attempted to stage new demonstrations in Cairo on Wednesday. There were scuffles reported outside the journalists’ union building in central Cairo as hundreds of people gathered to protest. Police beat some with batons and fired tear gas when they tried to break through a cordon, and protesters on nearby buildings threw stones. Reuters news agency reported more clashes outside a central court complex in the city.

Witnesses say riot police have been charging demonstrators throughout the day wherever in Cairo they happen to gather. Meanwhile, in the eastern city of Suez, crowds gathered outside the morgue where the body of a victim of Tuesday’s protests was being kept. One of Tuesday’s demonstrators, Mostapha El-Shafey, told the BBC he planned to join protests again on Wednesday. “I want to see an end to this dictatorship. Thirty years of Mubarak is enough. We’ve had enough of the state of emergency. Prices are going up and up,” he said. Demonstrations are illegal in Egypt, which has been ruled by President Mubarak since 1981. The government tolerates little dissent and opposition demonstrations are routinely outlawed.

Protesters in Egypt greeted by a police crackdown

Cairo, Egypt (CNN) — Protesters taking to the streets in Egypt on Wednesday felt the wrath of security forces, a day after an unparalleled display of public rage at the government and full-throated cries for the ouster of the longtime president. Police turned water cannons and tear gas on protesters in the early hours of Wednesday morning to try to break up unprecedented anti-government demonstrations as the Interior Ministry warned it “will not allow any provocative movement or a protest or rallies or demonstrations.” In the heart of Cairo, where people were being beaten with sticks and fists and demonstrators were being dragged away amid tear gas. Witnesses saw security forces harassing journalists and photographers. A minor clash happened in Suez, as well, according to the Interior Ministry. The ministry urged “citizens to renounce attempts to bid and trade their problems and not lose sight of the consequences of provocation for those who attempt to try to open the door to a state of chaos or portray the situation in the country this way.” The clampdown comes after thousands of protesters spilled into the streets of Egypt on Tuesday, an unprecedented display of anti-government rage inspired in part by the tumult in the nearby North African nation of Tunisia. At least four people died in the Tuesday clashes, the Interior Ministry reported — three protesters in Suez and one police officer in Cairo. It also said at least 102 security personnel were injured.

Calling its relationship with Egypt “strong and friendly,” the U.S. State Department regards Mubarak’s help in maintaining security in the Mideast as critical. The government, which has diplomatic relations with Israel, has helped forge peace between Israel and the Palestinians and has helped in efforts to stabilize Iraq, the State Department said. It contributes to U.N. peacekeeping missions, “played a key role during the 1990-1991 Gulf crisis,” and is a “key supporter of U.S. efforts against terrorists and terrorist organizations such as Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda, the department said in a background note about Egypt. U.S. military aid to Egypt totals over $1.3 billion annually, and the U.S. Agency for International Development has passed along over $28 billion in economic and development assistance to the country since 1975. Asked about the protests, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Tuesday that the United States believes the “Egyptian government is stable and is looking for ways to respond to the legitimate needs and interests of the Egyptian people.” State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said Tuesday that the United States wants “to see reform occur, in Egypt and elsewhere, to create greater political, social, and economic opportunity consistent with people’s aspirations.” “We have raised with governments in the region the need for reforms and greater openness and participation in order to respond to their people’s aspirations — and we will continue to do so, Crowley said.

Clashes erupt as police use tear gas to break up ‘illegal’ protest

Police used batons and tear gas to break up an anti-government demonstration Wednesday; the activists had defied an earlier ban on such gatherings by the authorities.At least 500 people have been across the country, security officials said. Egyptian anti-government activists clashed with Egyptian police  for a second day. Tens of thousands of Egyptian protesters continued to stage mass demonstrations around Cairo Wednesday, in defiance of an official ban on any gatherings. Police quickly moved in and used tear gas and beatings to disperse the protesters. According to Egyptian security officials, at least 500 people were arrested across Egypt. The figure includes 90 people in Cairo and 121 members of the opposition Muslim Brotherhood in the southern city of Assiut, the officials told reporters without providing further details.On Tuesday, tens of thousands turned out in several cities for the biggest anti-government protests in years, activists used social networking sites to call for fresh demonstrations. But Facebook, key tools used to organize protests, appeared to be at least partially blocked in the afternoon. Interior Ministry warned police would not tolerate any gatherings, and there was a heavy security presence on the streets, poised to crack down quickly on any new signs of unrest.

Tuesday’s demonstrations were the latest in outbursts of political discontent in Egypt that have been growing more frequent and more intense over the past year. Protests have erupted sporadically over police brutality, poverty and food prices, government corruption and mismanagement, and more recently over sectarian strife between Christians and Muslims. Parliamentary elections in November were widely decried as fraudulent.Many in Egypt see these events as signs of authoritarian President Hosni Mubarak’s vulnerability in an election year. There is speculation that 82-year-old Mubarak, who recently experienced serious health problems, may be setting his son Gamal up for hereditary succession. But there is considerable public opposition and, according to leaked U.S. diplomatic memos, it does not meet with the approval of the powerful military. And the regime’s tight hold on power has made it virtually impossible for any serious alternative to Mubarak to emerge. At Wednesday’s protests, police fired tear gas to disperse a crowd of several hundred activists on a main commercial thoroughfare in central Cairo, chasing them through side streets as both sides pelted each other with rocks with hundreds of onlookers watching anxiously.

Earlier, dozens gathered outside the Journalists’ Union in downtown Cairo and renewed the chants heard against Mubarak throughout Tuesday’s much larger protests. “Mubarak is leaving, leaving. Oh Egyptian people, be brave and join us,” they chanted. As police charged the crowd, beating them with sticks, they chanted “peaceful, peaceful.” Many protesters say they have been inspired by the uprising in Tunisia – even invoking some of the identical slogans heard in the other north African nation. On Tuesday, protesters clashed with police, who used rubber bullets, water cannons, tear gas and truncheons to disperse them. Three demonstrators and one police officer were killed in the clashes. The crackdown by Egyptian authorities has brought harsh words from European leaders, who expressed concern and said the events underline the need for democratization and respect for human and civil rights. However, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton did not criticize Egypt’s government – a key U.S. ally in the Middle East – but only said the country was stable and Egyptians have the right to protest while urging all parties to avoid violence.

For up to the minute news regarding the protests in Egypt log on to Twitter and search for: #jan26

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