Egypt

Thousands invade central Cairo on 'day of revolution'

Reuters/Asmaa Waguih

Thousands of protesters thronged the streets of Cairo on Tuesday in a Tunisian-inspired demonstration against President Hosni Mubarak and alleged brutality by state security services.

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Defying official declarations that the protest was illegal, demonstrators broke through police barriers to enter the city centre, chanting “Down with Mubarak” and “Tunisia is not better than Egypt”. Some surrounded the Supreme Court.

Protest supporters are providing live updates online and report demonstrations in several provincial towns, including Alexandria, Port Said and Giza.

Campaigners reported dozens of arrests ahead of the demonstrations.

Among the protesters’ demands are:

  • The sacking of Interior Minister Habib al-Adly, responsible for police and security services;
  • The scrapping of a decades-old emergency law;
  • A rise in the minimum wage;
  • A new term limit on the presidency.

The demonstration was called on a national holiday which is supposed to celebrate the achievements of the police.

Reuters / Amr Abdallah Dalsh

Criticism of security forces is high after the revelation of several cases of police brutality and torture of anti-government forces.

At least 30,000 police have been mobilised in the city centre alone, according to officials who said the area surrounding the Interior Ministry has been sealed off.

Counter-protests under the banner “Mubarak: Egypt’s security” have also been organised.

The call for “a day of revolution against torture, corruption, poverty and unemployment” was launched online by two pro-democracy campaigns and has gathered support from dissidents, celebrities, workers and football fans.

The country’s largest opposition group, the Muslim Brotherhood, at first dismissed the protests but later declared that it would back them symbolically, without calling on its supporters to join.

Former international atomic agency chief, Mohamed ElBaradei, who now leads the opposition National Association for Change, has expressed support for the protest. The party said that several members had been summoned by security services in the run-up to Tuesday's demonstrations.

Egypt has seen a number of suicides by self-immolation - as have other Middle Eastern countries - after the Tunisian uprising was sparked by the death of street-vendor Mohammed Bouazizi.

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