At least five people were killed and scores injured when millions took to the streets across Egypt demanding the resignation of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi,with media outlets describing it as the largest demonstration seen in the history of the most populous Arab country.
In the Egyptian capital here,tens of thousands of people yesterday assembled at the iconic Tahrir Square – the centre of pro-democracy protests in 2011 – under the banner of Tamarod (Rebellion) movement which is driving the campaign with a petition of signatures seeking Morsi’s ouster and a snap election,just as he completed a year in office. At least one person was killed in clashes at Cairo’s headquarters of the governing Muslim Brotherhood movement,raising fears of an escalation in violence in the country.
Four others died in clashes elsewhere during the protests,which has united liberal and secular opposition groups,media reports said today. Around 250 were injured. Thousands of ordinary Egyptians – angered by Morsi’s political and economic policies – also took part in the rallies,described as the biggest protest in the history of Egypt. Despite no independent way to verify this estimate,some international media outlets have said this could have been the largest demonstration seen in the world’s history. The opposition National Salvation Front said protesters will remain in the streets until the fall of the regime.
Opposition activists claim more than 22 million people in the nation of 84 million have signed the petition and have urged the signatories to come out in Tahrir Square.
Thousands spent the night at Tahrir Square,focus of the Arab Spring protests which brought down longtime president Hosni Mubarak in 2011. The current protests come on the first anniversary of Morsi’s election as the country’s first Islamist president.
61-year-old Morsi’s opponents say he has failed to tackle economic and security problems. Critics also say he has put the Islamist agenda of his Muslim Brotherhood party ahead of the country’s wider interests. In Cairo,anti-Morsi supporters waving red cards chanted: “Irhal! Irhal!” (“Leave! Leave!”).
Similar rallies were held in Alexandria,Kafr al-Sheikh,Desouq city,Sidi Salem,Damietta,Gharbiya,Suez,Monofia,Sharqiya – the birthplace of Morsi,and other cities.
Supporters of the president are also holding their own rallies. Muslim Brotherhood’s political wing,the Freedom and Justice Party,vowed that the pro-Morsi coalition will remain in sit-ins to defend until opposition end their rallies.
Egyptian presidency urged all political forces to commit to peaceful protest,insisting ‘dialogue’ is only way out of impasse. “Dialogue is the only way to reach consensus,” said a presidential spokesman yesterday.