It’s been a tumultuous two years since Egypt became a democracy, and tens of thousands of citizens are recognising its anniversary by gathering to protest against President Mohamed Morsi.
“I came here to join the young protesters for freedom, bread and social justice,” Egyptian sociologist Saad El-Din Ibrahim told Al Ahram in Tahrir Square. “I think the message must be sent to the regime, otherwise it will be too late.”
Ahram Online reports that at least 120 people have been injured nationwide in clashes of groups — opponents of Morsi, his supporters in the Muslim Brotherhood, police, and others — involving glass, bricks, blades, birdshot and Molotov cocktails. Violent sexual attacks have also occurred.
In Cairo police fired tear gas at protesters at the presidential palace after the masked Black Bloc tried to cross barbed wires placed in front of the palace. Groups of thousands have attacked official buildings across the country, including Muslim Brotherhood Headquarters.
Protests against Morsi have become increasingly violent after the Islamist president issued a constitutional decree in November that ruled none of his decisions could be overturned until a new constitution was drafted and that the Islamist-dominated assembly writing the constitution is exempt from dissolution.
Critics say the constitution, which was subsequently passed by referendum, does not offer adequate protection for human rights, grants the president too many privileges and fails to curb the power of a military establishment that dominated in the era of Hosni Mubarak.
One protester, a 28-year-old who has been protesting since January 28, 2011, told Al Ahram he will not leave Tahrir Square until “Morsi changes the government and that the constitution is cancelled.”
Other demands are more basic than that as the two years have turmoil have crushed the economy, causing the Egyptian pound to sink to record lows against the dollar.
“I am here because of the increasing prices,” a 29-year-old told Al Ahram. “I come from the slums and I feel that the Brotherhood only care about the poor when they need votes.”
Here’s a report from the front lines from Al Ahram:
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