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Angry Riots Rage in Cairo

Published: 03/02/2012 05:18:29 PM GMT
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CAIRO - Fresh clashes erupted between protesters and police in the Egyptian capital on Friday, February 3, on a second day of fighting around Egypt's I (more)

CAIRO - Fresh clashes erupted between protesters and police in the Egyptian capital on Friday, February 3, on a second day of fighting around Egypt's Interior Ministry as anger mounted over football-related clashes that have left 74 people dead.

"We will stay until we get our rights," 22-year-old Abu Hanafy, who arrived from work on Thursday evening and decided to join the protest, told Reuters.

“Did you see what happened in Port Said?”

Protests started following the death of 74 and injury of 1000 fans in the country's worst sports disaster after football fans invaded the pitch in the Mediterranean city of Port Said, after local team al-Masry beat visitors from Cairo, Al Ahli, Egypt's most successful club.

Blaming lax policing for the stadium disaster, protesters have been engaged in street battles over the past two days at the ministry building, close to Tahrir square.

Trying to save injured people, whose number exceeded 400, demonstrators had heaved aside a concrete barrier blocking a main road near the ministry overnight.

"We pulled it down with our bare hands," said Abdul-Ghani Mohamed, a 32-year-old construction worker.

"We are the sons of the pharaohs."

Close to the ministry headquarters, a demonstrator and an army officer were reported dead in Cairo.

In the city of Suez two people, who trying to break into a police station, were killed by live rounds, witnesses and the ambulance authority said blaming security forces for the deaths.

Security officials, however, denied the claim, blaming the deaths on other rioters.

Ambulances had also to intervene overnight to extract riot police whose truck took a wrong turn into a street full of protesters.  

Protesters surrounded the vehicle for at least 45 minutes, rocking it while the police were inside.

Some of the demonstrators then formed a corridor to help them escape.

At landmark Tahrir square, twenty-eight youth activist groups and political parties called for mass protests on what was called the "Friday of Anger".

A few hundred people, some of them protesters who had camped out overnight, held Friday prayers in Cairo's central Tahrir Square.

Culminated Anger

Hardcore football fans known as Ultras, who often clash with the police and were at the forefront of the popular uprising against Hosni Mubarak one year ago, vowed to continue their protests.

"We're here because of everything, because of the people who died on Mohammed Mahmoud Street, on Qasr al-Aini Street, and all the people they [the security forces] have killed in the past year," Islam Said, a student at Cairo University and a fan of the Ahly club, told Christian Science Monitor on Friday.

"We're tired, we want real security, we want real change."

Such clashes, which have become an almost common occurrence in downtown Cairo, seem to be an effect of the inherent instability created by continued military rule.

Headed by Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, the military council has said it will cede power to an elected president by the end of June, thus completing a democratic transition.

Yet pro-democracy activists doubt their intentions, pointing to a surge in military trials and the use of violence against protesters as signs of autocratic ways familiar from the Mubarak era.

The renewed violence may strengthen activists and parties who have called for presidential elections to be held sooner, before a constitution is drafted.

Many of the protesters say such outbreaks will not stop before the military steps down.

“The crimes committed against the revolutionary forces will not stop the revolution or scare the revolutionaries," said a pamphlet printed in the name of the Ultras.

Reproduced with permission from