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. The prime minister insists the government is committed to guaranteeing the freedom of expression by legitimate means.
However, social networking site Facebook was shut down in Egypt on Wednesday, a day after Twitter was blocked, according to Harvard University’s Herdict web monitoring centre.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has urged Egyptian authorities to allow peaceful protests and not to interfere with social network sites.
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.