Thousands of demonstrators have again taken to the streets of Cairo and other Egyptian cities to protest against the rule of the country’s Islamist president. Violence broke out in a number of towns.
Anti-government demonstrators threw petrol bombs and set off fireworks outside the presidential palace in Cairo on Friday. This came amid mass protests against President Mohamed Morsi in the capital and beyond, which followed Friday prayers.
There have been several clashes between security forces and demonstrators outside of the palace in recent weeks, in which at least 10 people have been killed. Video footage that emerged last week showing police stripping and beating a man near the palace caused particular anger among Egyptians. The interior ministry responded by apologizing for the incident and launching an investigation.
Thousands of demonstrators also gathered at Cairo's Tahrir Square on Friday, the cradle of the 18-day uprising that led to the resignation of longtime authoritarian President Hosni Mubarak two years ago.
The protesters in Tahrir shouted slogans against President Morsi and the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, which holds the most seats in the country's parliament. That rally is reported to have remained peaceful into the evening. At a nearby metro station, some protesters gathered on the rail tracks to stage a blockade.
Demonstrations were reported in several towns in the Nile Delta province of Gharbiya, where 28 people required medical attention, mainly for tear gas inhalation, according to the Health Ministry. The most violent clashes were reported in the town of Tanta, the hometown of an activist who was buried there a few days ago after having been beaten to death by security officers in Cairo.
Elsewhere, at least five people were reported injured in clashes between protesters and police in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria.
The opposition and anti-government protesters accuse the president and the Muslim Brotherhood of seeking to monopolize political power in the country. They have also expressed wider complaints over the economic and political development of the country since the January 2011 revolt.
Tensions between the Islamists and its opponents were ramped up further this week when a hard-line cleric called for prominent opposition figures to be put to death for trying to bring down the government.
On Thursday, the interior minister ordered police to deploy extra security at the homes of prominent members of the opposition.
Prime Minister Hesham Kandil warned that such religious edicts - known as fatwas - could result in "sedition and disturbance."
pfd/ccp (Reuters, dpa, AFP)