- Middle East/North Africa
Police forces continued to fire tear gas canisters at protesters on Qasr al-Aini Street near Tahrir Square on Friday evening after protesters tried to move a police vehicle burned earlier today towards Central Security Forces, eyewitnesses reported.
The clashes came after thousands of protesters marching from various points in the city converged on Tahrir Square early on Friday afternoon to demonstrate against the constitutional declaration issued on Thursday evening granting President Mohamed Morsy sweeping powers.
State-owned Al-Ahram newspaper said that protesters chanted, “The people want to topple the Brothers.”
The Interior Ministry denied firing any tear gas at protesters in Tahrir, and demanded that they not harass the officers stationed on Qasr al-Aini Street. The ministry added that it respected peaceful demonstrations.
Clashes broke out between protesters and police forces in downtown Cairo in the late afternoon. Al Jazeera Mubasher Misr showed footage of armored police vehicles chasing protesters down near Tahrir Square and firing tear gas canisters.
Earlier in the day, a march of dozens came from Estiqama Mosque in Giza Square after Friday prayers. The march included April 6 Youth Movement, Popular Current and Constitution Party members. Each movement raised its flag while others raised the Egyptian flag. The protesters also held banners denouncing the Muslim Brotherhood and its intervention in the state policy, as well as banners rejecting yesterday’s constitutional declaration.
The protesters formed human chains to avoid disrupting traffic.
Another march arrived in Tahrir from Nour Mosque in Abbasseya that included dozens of opponents to Morsy's decisions, including April 6 activists.
The protesters held symbolic coffins wrapped in Egyptian flags and white flags that read "martyr."
They chanted "The people want to bring the president down" and "A second revolution anew."
The protesters arrival in Tahrir came about an hour after Islamist supporters of President Mohamed Morsy came out in the tens to demonstrate against the Constitution Party’s anti-Morsy protest march from the Fatah Mosque in Ramses Square.
The two groups engaged in verbal sparring matches, shouting slogans at each other after the Friday prayers ended. Constitution Party protesters immediately left.
On their way from Ramses to Tahrir Square, the protesters chanted and raised banners with statements including “The people want the downfall of the regime.”
The Islamist protesters continued chanting pro-Morsy slogans, such as “People want god’s rules to be applied,” and raising the Quran. They ended their demonstration as soon as the other group left.
Hundreds of protesters began flocking to Tahrir Square on Friday morning. They blocked traffic and marched across the square holding banners reading “Welcome revolutionaries” and chanting slogans such as, “Down with the Muslim Brotherhood.”
The entrances of Tahrir Square were closed with the placement of barriers at the Egyptian Museum, the American University in Cairo, Qasr al-Nil Street and Qasr al-Aini Street, which was already blocked due to clashes taking place there between other protesters and security forces.
Two tents were set up in the middle of the square. Several street vendors were present.
The first march of the day began from Mostafa Mahmoud Street in Mohandiseen, led by reform advocate Mohamed ElBaradei and head of Popular Current Hamdeen Sabbahi. Other marches from Dokki and Sayeda Zeinab joined protesteres in Tahrir later in the day.
Arrangements began early morning on Friday for the protest, which was called for by several political forces during a meeting at the Wafd Party headquarters late on Thursday following Morsy’s announcement of the constitutional declaration.
Political forces including the Wafd Party, Tagammu Party, Constitution Party, Democratic Egyptian Party, Free Egyptians Party and Popular Trend Party, as well as the April 6 Youth Movement, the Revolutionary Youth Union, the Free Egyptian Movement, the No to Military Trials group and the Bring them for Trial campaign announced participation in the protest.
The demands of the protesters are many, including the annulment of the newly-declared constitutional declaration that grants the president unprecedented powers, the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly, holding a national dialogue to reach consensus over standards and mechanisms of a new assembly that would include all political forces, issuing a legislation that guarantees justice for the martyrs, the dismissal of Prime Minister Hesham Qandil, forming a new revolutionary government and restructuring the Interior Ministry.
Meanwhile, Islamist forces including the Muslim Brotherhood, Jama’a al-Islamiya, and Salafi Dawah as well the Freedom and Justice Party, the Nour Party, Asala and Wasat refused to take part in the protest in Tahrir, and confirm their support of the new constitutional declaration.
Edited translation from MENA