Thousands took to the streets across Egypt on Friday, after opposition groups called for “Friday of dignity” rallies demanding President Mohammed Morsi fulfill the goals of the revolt that brought him to power.
Banging on drums, waving flags and clapping in unison, demonstrators marched from several locations in the capital to Tahrir Square and the presidential palace, according to an AFP report.
“The people want the downfall of the regime,” the protesters chanted while others slammed interior ministry officials as “thugs”.
In Tahrir, several thousand protesters carried aloft a huge Egyptian flag as they listened to speeches and music from the stage.
Several hundred protesters also gathered outside the presidential palace chanting “Freedom, where are you? Brotherhood rule stands between us,” in reference to the Muslim Brotherhood movement from which Morsi hails.
The protests come after several incidents of police violence last week that caused public outrage and sparked angry demonstrations.
Protests against the Islamist president also took place after the weekly Friday Muslim main prayers in several of Egypt’s 27 provinces.
In the Nile Delta city of Kafr el-Sheikh, police fired tear gas to disperse a crowd outside a government building, as protesters hurled stones at the security forces, the official MENA news agency reported.
In Tanta, police clashed with protesters who tried to break into the municipal council building, MENA added.
Thirty-eight opposition parties and movements had joined together to call for the rallies, demanding a new unity government, amendments to the Islamist-drafted constitution and guarantees that the independence of the judiciary be maintained.
Earlier this week, the death of a pro-democracy activist following days in police custody sparked fury and reignited calls for police reform — a key demand of the uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak in 2011.
His death came just days after footage was aired live on television of a man stripped naked and beaten by riot police during demonstrations near the presidential palace.
The two incidents confronted Morsi with uncomfortable parallels with the old regime.
A former Egyptian presidential candidate told Al Arabiya in an interview on Sunday that the brutal dragging and beating of the naked man was previously planned by the interior ministry in an effort to terrorize the public.
Ahmed Shafiq, who lost the presidential race to Morsi last year, said the widely circulated video of 50-year-old Hamada Saber was intended to send a message of fear to those protesting in the streets against the brutal reign of the Muslim Brotherhood.
The torture is a “new style of exaggerated terrorism used against the Egyptian citizens that will lead only to violence and hatred of the regime,” Shafiq told Al-Arabiya.