Egyptian riot police in Cairo 311 AP.
(photo credit: AP)
CAIRO — Egyptian activists on Wednesday used social networking
sites to call for a fresh wave of demonstrations, a day after they
staged the biggest protests in years in Egypt to demand the end of President Hosni Mubarak's nearly 30-year rule.
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However, the Egyptian Interior Ministry warned that police would not tolerate any
gatherings, marches or protests, suggesting that security forces would
immediately crackdown at the first sign of protesters gathering.
Across the Egyptian capital on Wednesday, thousands of riot police were deployed in anticipation of fresh anti-government, Tunisia-inspired protests. A day earlier, tens of thousands demonstrated in Cairo and several other Egyptian cities to call for Mubarak's ouster and a solution to rampant poverty, rising prices and high unemployment.
In Europe Wednesday, 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."
Her spokeswoman, Maja Kocijancic, said Egyptian authorities should "take note of their legitimate wish for political action to deal with the problems that are affecting their daily lives."
Two protesters and a policeman were killed in Tuesday's protests and
some 250 were wounded, including 85 policemen, when riot police used
tear gas and batons to disperse protesters shortly after midnight.
Medical officials said a third protester died Wednesday from injuries
sustained a day earlier.
Activists organized Tuesday's protests, dubbed "day of revolution
against torture, poverty, corruption and unemployment," on the social
networking site Facebook, and demonstrators spread word of where to
gather on Twitter.
"All of Egypt must move, at one time," the Facebook group organizing the
demonstrations said in a posting Wednesday in which it listed a number
of spots in Cairo and around the country where demonstrators should
Thousands of policemen in riot gear and backed by armored vehicles took
up posts on bridges across the Nile, at major intersections and squares
as well as outside key installations like the state TV building and the
headquarters of Mubarak's ruling National Democratic Party in central
The capital remained quiet in the early afternoon with no sign of fresh protests.
Tuesday's unrest led the Egyptian stock market to tumble by more than 4
percent on Wednesday, the first concrete sign that the demonstrations
have impacted the country's economy. The benchmark EGX30 index was down
4.63 percent, to 6,411.94 points by 10:45 a.m. local time Tuesday.
Security officials, meanwhile, said up to 860 protesters were detained Wednesday, 600 in Cairo and the rest in port-city Alexandria and other cities, during clashes between police and protesters in Cairo
and elsewhere in this Arab state of some 80 million people.
More were likely to be detained as authorities review police video tapes
of the protests, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity
because they were not authorized to speak to the media.
The protests were Egypt's biggest in years and are likely to fuel
dissent in a presidential election year. Mubarak, 82, has yet to say
whether he plans to run for another six-year term in office. He is
thought to be grooming his son Gamal to succeed him, a prospect that is
opposed by many Egyptians.
"Down with Hosni Mubarak, down with the tyrant," chanted the crowds in
Cairo on Tuesday. "We don't want you!" they screamed. One sign carried
by protesters on Tuesday said: "Gamal, take your dad and go."
Gamal Mubarak, the son of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, fled to
Britain with his family on Wednesday, the US-based Arabic website Akhbar
al-Arab reported. The Jerusalem Post
could not verify the report.
The private jet carrying Gamal and his wife and daughter left for London
Tuesday from an airport in the west of Cairo, according to unverified