Tens of thousands of Egyptian protesters have taken to the streets in angry protests to denounce President Hosni Mubarak.
Clashes between police and demonstrators broke out in the capital Cairo and other cities across Egypt. Rallies were coordinated nationwide on a scale not witnessed before during Mubarak’s 30-year rule. Police used water cannon and tear gas to disperse crowds, who sporadically responded by hurling bottles and rocks.
Protesters appear galvanised by the recent unrest in Tunisia, which resulted in President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali being overthrown and forced to flee to Saudi Arabia. Many Egyptians share the same grievances as Tunisians: high prices, unemployment and decades of authoritarian rule.
Chants of “Tunisia! Tunisia!”, “Down, down Hosni Mubarak” and “Mubarak, Saudi Arabia awaits you” could be heard in Cairo’s streets.
Leaders of Egypt’s fragmented opposition parties were joined by celebrities and football supporters, with tens of thousands of people having declared their intention to march on a specially-dedicated Facebook page. Protest organisers are calling it a “day of revolt against torture, poverty, corruption and unemployment.”
The Egyptian interior minister had previously promised that security forces “will not take lightly any damage to property or breaches of the law”. An emergency law that has been in place for decades and which gives police wide powers to arrest protesters was renewed last year.
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