Egyptian riot police fired tear gas and clashed Thursday with dozens of protesters as they tried to tear down a cement wall built to prevent demonstrators from reaching the parliament and the Cabinet building in central Cairo.
Police also clashed with protesters in Cairo Thursday, eve of the second anniversary of the uprising that overthrew Hosni Mubarak, as they tried to dismantle a security barrier and called for the fall of Islamist President Mohammed Mursi, an AFP correspondent said.
A few dozens men and youths tried to dismantle the wall of concrete blocks that blocked a street leading to Tahrir Square, focal point of demonstrations that broke out on January 25, 2010 and led to Mubarak’s resignation 18 days later.
The walls were erected last year to protect numerous buildings housing government and security service offices in the area.
“Down with Mohammed Mursi,” some demonstrators shouted. “Down with the power of the (Supreme) Guide” of the powerful Muslim Brotherhood, from whose ranks Mursi was elected last June.
Some demonstrators hurled rocks at riot police positioned a few dozen meters (yards) on the other side of the wall, who responded with tear gas grenades.
Newspaper reports said that protesters have also attacked the Shoura Council’s headquarters in Cairo with firebombs.
ElBaradei urges for change
In an online video message posted on Thursday, the nation’s most prominent opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei urged Egyptians to rally in the streets but warned that change will take time.
“I demand from each one of you, all across Egypt, to prove that the revolution must continue and much be completed,” said ElBaradei, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate and former head of the U.N. nuclear agency in the message.
“Egyptians rose up for the sake of freedom, dignity and social justice,” he said. “We must not stop until we see all the demands achieved. It will take time but we have to put ourselves on the right path.”
The opposition wants to use the occasion to put pressure on Mursi and the Muslim Brotherhood, who secular and liberal Egyptians accuse of trying to monopolize power.
Meanwhile, the Brotherhood and other Islamist parties announced they will stay away from the streets on Friday’s anniversary and warned the opposition against instigating violence. However, a Brotherhood member said that orders were given for supporters to rally at a mosque located near the presidency. He spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.