At least 143 people were injured in the Egyptian capital this weekend when
thousands of demonstrators fought opponents with stones on their march to the
Defense Ministry to urge their military rulers to speed up reforms, witnesses
RELATED:'Egypt committed to maintaining existing int'l agreements'Egypt army moves to secure key role in country's futureAl-Masry Al-Youm
They said most of the injuries occurred Saturday when civilians,
believed to be thugs, hurled barrages of stones and firebombs at protesters, who
fought back with stones torn up from pavements.
newspaper estimated 143 people were hurt in the clashes, while state-run
on Sunday put the figure as high as 296, quoting a health
Military police, armed with Tasers and batons, fired in the air
to stop the demonstrators from approaching the ministry.
witness said tear gas fumes were wafting outside the area as military
helicopters circled overhead.
Meanwhile, Al-Masry Al- Youm
Muslim Brotherhood would participate in this week’s “Friday of Stability” rally.
Organizers intend for the demonstration, called by the Brotherhood and other
Islamist groups, to be a show of force against drafting the country’s new
constitution before parliamentary elections set for September.
Muslim Brotherhood takeover of the next government, secularist and liberal
groups are demanding the constitution be drafted first. They call for a document
containing a set of supra-constitutional principles that secures Egypt as a
civil state, while Islamist groups are hoping to uphold the results of the
referendum, which retain the prior constitution’s second article identifying
Islam as the main source of legislation.
This weekend’s clashes broke out
after the head of the ruling military council, Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein
Tantawi, promised in a televised speech to push ahead with elections to
transform the Arab world’s most populous nation into a democracy.
demonstrators were angered by clashes between military police and protesters in
a number of cities on Friday.
The army denied using force against
Thousands of protesters marched from Tahrir Square, the epicenter
of the January 25 protests that ousted Hosni Mubarak, towards the ministry
chanting “peaceful, peaceful.”
“The people want to bring down the field
marshal,” they chanted as they headed for the ministry, snarling
Tantawi, whose military council took over after Mubarak’s
overthrow, was seen leaving the area before protesters arrived.
the 15th day of demonstrations in Tahrir Square and other squares across the
country to back demands for more freedom for the civilian government, led by
Essam Sharaf, an end to military trials and a timetable the completion of
Prime Minister Sharaf reshuffled his cabinet last week and
promised to speed up trials and political reforms.
“The government is
fully keen on implementing the demands of the people for freedom, democracy and
social justice, and it will work on translating those goals,” Sharaf
He was echoing promises of reform and a transition to democracy
that were delivered earlier by Tantawi, in a speech to mark the anniversary of
the 1952 revolution, which overthrew King Farouk in a bloodless coup.
are committed to pressing ahead in turning Egypt into a modern civilian state,”
“We are moving forward on the path to entrenching democracy
that upholds freedoms and the rights of citizens through free and fair
elections,” he added in a prerecorded speech, his first address to the public
since Mubarak was ousted.
“The decisive period in our people’s history
requires concerted efforts from all Egyptians to confront the urgent challenges
facing us that cannot be dealt with by hesitation or semi-solutions,” Tantawi
said, citing efforts to limit the economic damage caused by the
The clashes on Saturday broke out after civilians threw rocks
from rooftops in adjacent buildings. Many in the crowd were thought by
protesters to be thugs but some residents of the Abbassiya district were fearful
protests in their neighborhood were obstructing business and
State media said the civilians fighting with the demonstrators
were from “people’s committees” protecting the neighborhood, and the army had
maintained all self-restraint, blaming the violence on protesters.
ruling military council has recently issued a series of statements warning of
groups manipulating the revolution and seeking to drive a wedge between the
armed forces and the people.
In the latest accusation, the council denied
the authorities used force against demonstrators on Friday and accused the April
6 Youth Movement, one of the main groups behind the uprising that toppled
Mubarak, of creating divisions.
April 6 described the statement as
“We will be the last to leave Tahrir Square,
either alive with our heads held high after triumphantly achieving the demands
of the Egyptian people or as martyrs for the sake of God and the nation,” the