Exactly two years after violent protests toppled the 32-reign of former President Hosni Mubarak, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi has been forced to declare a state of emergency for the same reason.
On Sunday, Morsi declared a 30-day state of emergency in three provinces along the Suez Canal where dozens of protesters have been killed in anti-government riots over the past four days.
In Cairo’s iconic Tahrir Square, protests entered a fourth day as police struggled to contain violence by rioters despite tear gas fired at a crowd protesting what they insisted was a power grab by Islamists. Business owners, in despair at the increasing loss to the already crippled economy, called the rock-throwing protesters “thugs” and told reporters “They are not revolutionaries protesting. They are thugs destroying the country.”
For their part, the protesters insist that none of the goals of the 2011 revolution have been met, with prices continuing to rise and corruption still obvious in the government, albeit with Islamic faces.
Similar clashes between police and protesters took place in Ismaila, located between Suez and Port Said. Rioters attacked a police station with rocks and firebombs (Molotov cocktails), witnesses and a security official told reporters.
The army, backed by the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, has been deployed in both Suez and Port Said, cities located along the Suez Canal.
Calling for dialogue with top officials, Morsi announced Monday in a televised address that a night-time curfew would be imposed in Port Said, Suez and Ismaila beginning Monday evening.
In Port Said, more than 400 people were injured and seven were shot to death during a funeral over the weekend for 33 demonstrators who were killed by police.
But the protests have continued as anti-government demonstrators continued to call for more demonstrations on Monday.
The initial violence began following a court decision sentencing 21 people to death in connection with riots at a Port Said soccer match last year in which dozens were trampled to death.
But Saturday’s funerals appeared to simply provide a further focus for the rage of those already inflamed against the Muslim Brotherhood-controlled government, in much the same way protests snowballed two years ago during the January 25 Revolution that deposed Mubarak.
“Down, down with Morsi, down, down the regime that killed and tortured us!” yelled the mourners in Port Said on Saturday as they carried the coffins of those who were killed by security forces through the streets of the city.