Thousands of demonstrators have defied a protest ban and continued anti-government rallies in the Egyptian capital Cairo.
The demonstrators gathered around a central court complex in the city, chanting ‘‘The people want the fall of the regime.’‘
The latest rally followed earlier scuffles between police and protesters in the capital and the eastern city of Suez. Officials say at least 500 people have been arrested nationwide.
Egypt’s interior ministry had vowed to arrest and prosecute anyone taking to the streets after yesterday’s violent unrest, which saw at least three people killed, including a police officer. However the prime minister insists the government is committed to guaranteeing the freedom of expression by legitimate means.
On the streets of Cairo, however, many were still calling for an end to the 30-year rule of President Hosni Mubarak. They appeared galvanised by the recent ousting of Tunisian president, Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali.
‘‘What happened yesterday showed Egyptians are able to rise up. A lot of people argue we’ll need decades to change, but Tunisia proved that it only takes 29 days of protest to topple a regime which has been in power for 23 years,’‘ one man said in Cairo on Wednesday.
‘‘We need political and economic reform. The debate and parliamentary elections were a fraud and there will be presidential elections in the next few months. No political party has a chance against the ruling NDP candidate,’‘ another man said.
Euronews Middle East correspondent Mohamed Elhamy in Cairo asks: ‘‘Is it the beginning of a revolution or just a simple protest? No one knows but what is certain is that yesterday’s demonstration showed that there is a new kind of opposition on the streets of Egypt that is seeking change, but does not belong to mainstream politics.’‘