Egyptians protest near Mubarak's office after prayers

Mohamed ElBaradei, who has called for an end to Mubarak's rule, had joined the prayers.

Egyptians protest near Mubarak's office after prayers

Tens of thousands of Egyptians joined protests on Friday to call for the ousting of President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo and other major cities including Alexandria, Mansoura, Suez and Aswan, Reuters witnesses and other reports said.

Demonstrators on Friday gathered in a neighbourhood near a Cairo presidential residence, witnesses reported.

There was no official figure from the authorities.

Police clashed with protesters and sprayed them with water in demonstrations billed by activists as a "Friday of Wrath", a Reuters witness reported.

"Down, down, Hosni Mubarak," the chanted, stamping on posters of the president. They threw stones and dirt when the police who had surrounded them during Friday prayers sprayed water on the crowd.

"ElBaradei in prayer"

Mohamed ElBaradei, who has called for an end to Mubarak's rule, had joined the prayers involving about 2,000 people. They had been surrounded by police while praying in a square just outside a mosque in the Giza area of Cairo.

"The people want the end of the regime," they started shouting once the prayers were complete. They threw shoes at and stamped on posters of the president, a rare act of defiance in Egypt.

"Leave. leave. Mubarak, Mubarak, the plane awaits you," chanted in the protests, which have been inspired by a revolt in Tunisia. The Tunisian president of 23 years, Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, fled after those demonstrations to Saudi Arabia.

"Brotherhood leaders arrested"

Anti-Mubarak protesters took to the streets in central Cairo and other cities, including Suez, they said. Protesters threw stones and dirt at the police.

Security forces had mounted a clampdown in Cairo and blocked Internet sites prior to the demonstrations.

Emboldened by this month's revolt that toppled the leader of Tunisia, Egyptians have staged mass protests since Tuesday and hundreds have been arrested.

Members of the Muslim Brotherhood, including at least eight senior officials of the opposition group and its main spokesmen, were rounded up overnight. A security source said authorities had ordered a crackdown on the group.

Young protesters want an end to President Mubarak's authoritarian rule that has used heavy handed security to crush dissenters who complained about unemployment, inflation and corruption which has created a huge gap between rich and poor.

The same complaints about corruption and poverty cross the region and prompted protests in countries like Algeria and Yemen as well as the demonstrations what led to the end of Tunisian President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali's 23-year rule.

"Inflation has exhausted people. Prices of food, fuel, electricity, sugar are rising...The rich get richer and the poor poorer," said a taxi driver, declining to be named. "God knows what will happen today. After Tunisia anything is possible."

"Internet blocked"

Ahead of Friday's protests, trucks of police lined side roads leading to Tahrir, a square in Cairo where there were some of the biggest demonstrations on Tuesday and some of the most violent clashes.

At the Mostafa Mahmoud mosque in the upscale Cairo suburb of Mohandiseen, police and security officers lined up preventing cars from crossing towards the mosque.

Internet via Egyptian servers was blocked across the country shortly after midnight, closing a key tool for activists relying on social media networks. Mobile phone and text messaging services also appeared to be disabled or working sporadically.

Facebook has been the main vehicle for announcing Friday's protest and identifying locations for demonstrations.

Security forces shot dead a protester in the north of the Sinai region on Thursday, bringing the death toll to five.



Agencies

Last Mod: 28 Ocak 2011, 16:07
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