Protests continue
Photo: AFP
Clashes with security forces
Photo: AP
President Mubarak - silencing the media
Photo: AP

Egypt clashes: 860 protestors arrested

(Video) Egyptian Interior Ministry announces it is forbidding protests – but frustrated citizens come out in force to demonstrate, confront security forces. So far, 5 protestors killed, 860 arrested. EU's Ashton calls on Mubarak to 'respect citizens' rights'

VIDEO - Silencing the media: Egyptian security forces arrested eight local journalists who participated in an anti-government protest outside the Egyptian Press Association building in Cairo. Al Jazeera reported Wednesday that the security forces have reinforced their deployment throughout the capital.


Meanwhile, the European Union called on Egyptian authorities, including President Hosni Mubarak, to listen to their people, confront their problems and respect the peoples' right to protest. So far, 860 Egyptians have been arrested in the protests. The office of EU Foreign Affairs Chief Catherine Ashton called on "Egyptian authorities to respect and to protect the right of Egyptian citizens to manifest their political aspirations."


Earlier on Wednesday, the country's Interior Ministry announced that it would not allow protests to be held Wednesday, but Al Jazeera reported that demonstrations were still being held in Cairo, Alexandria and Suez.


After the opposition party called on its supporters to head back out onto the streets, Mubarak's government made it clear that any person participating in protests would be prosecuted. Five protestors have now been killed in the riots.


"No provocative movements or protest gatherings or organization of marches or demonstrations will be allowed, and immediate legal procedures will be taken and participants will be handed over to investigating authorities," the state news agency MENA cited the ministry as saying. 



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At Wednesday's protests, police fired tear gas to disperse a crowd of several hundred activists on a main commercial thoroughfare in central Cairo, chasing them through side streets as both sides pelted each other with rocks with hundreds of onlookers watching anxiously.


Eye witnesses said that many of the protestors surrendered to the gas, falling to the ground and suffering from breathing difficulties. "It was a field of tear gas, the square emptied out completely," said Gigi Ibrahim who was among the last to leave the protest.


Other witnesses said that they heard the echo of automatic weapons and that police officers in civilian clothing chased after hundreds of protestors who gathered on a main road in Cairo. Twenty officers were seen brutally beating one protestor.


Facebook has been a key means of communication for protesters, but Egyptians said the site was blocked on Wednesday. Twitter confirmed its site was blocked on Tuesday, although users could still access it via proxy sites. The Internet has been the main platform for some of the most vociferous criticism of Mubarak.


The complaints echo those of fellow Arabs in Tunisia: soaring food prices, a lack of jobs and authoritarian rule that usually crushes protests swiftly and with a heavy hand. It seems that the facebook call was answered as thousands headed to the streets. That was most likely the reason police forces used crowd dispersion measures, including tear gas, to deal with the rioting citizens.


AP and Reuters contributed to this report



פרסום ראשון: 01.26.11, 19:07
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