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25 Jan, 2013 10:33

Egypt calls for 'dialogue' amid violent clashes between protesters, police

Egypt’s National Defense Council has called for a national dialogue to resolve political differences. The call comes just hours after Egyptian police used teargas to disperse crowds of anti-government protesters near Cairo’s Tahrir Square.

The National Defense Council called for “a broad national dialogue that would be attended by independent national characters” to discuss political differences and ensure a “fair and transparent” parliamentary election, Information Minister Salah Abdel Maqsoud said in a statement.The council could also consider declaring a state of emergency or a curfew in areas of violence if needed, he said.More than 450 people have been injured and at least nine have been killed in two days of street clashes across Egypt as thousands protest against President Mohamed Morsi and his party. Troops have been deployed in the city of Suez amid violence.Molotov cocktails, rocks, teargas and gunfire marked the second anniversary of the Egyptian revolution.Earlier Saturday, Egyptian police used teargas to disperse crowds of angry demonstrators near the Interior Ministry headquarters in Cairo. Several policemen went to the top of an old building to fire tear gas and hurl stones at demonstrators. Dozens of protesters stood on top of the concrete wall separating Tahrir Square and Sheikh Rehan Square to hurl stones at officers, Egypt Independent reported.A reported 456 people have been wounded since the start of violent clashes in Cairo, Alexandria and Suez, Reuters says citing Egyptian officials.At least nine people are said to have been killed in clashes across the country. Eight of the dead, including a policeman, were shot dead in Suez, and another was shot and killed in the city of Ismailia, medics said.Suez saw some of the worst clashes between police and protesters, who set ablaze a government building that once housed the city's local government. Troops have been deployed to the city and tanks are in the streets, journalist Bel Trew told RT."We have asked the third armed forces to send reinforcements on the ground until we pass this difficult period," Adel Refaat, head of state security in Suez, told state television.Meanwhile President Morsi urged the nation to “reject violence.” “I call on all citizens to hold onto the noble principles of the Egyptian revolution to peacefully and freely express their views,” he tweeted. Morsi also issued condolences to the families of those killed in Friday’s clashes.Street battles continue between security forces and protesters in Tahrir Square, Bel Trew reported from Cairo.In Cairo, groups of people have been engaging in fights, firing birdshot and hurling Molotov cocktails at each other during the day, Ahram Online reports. There also has been the sound of heavy gunfire.

Some of the thousands protesters marching for Tahrir were reportedly attacked by men throwing rocks and glass near the bureau of the Muslim Brotherhood’s official website Ikhwan Online. While protesters blame the attacks on Brotherhood men, the Islamist group claims numerous attempts to “raid” their offices, Ahram Online says.In Alexandria hundreds of demonstrators took part in a march, while the city court building remained the center of protest activity.Сrowds of protesters approached the governorate headquarters and engaged in violent clashes with the police.Protesters broke up the pavements and threw rocks. Ahram online reported sounds of gunfire and what appeared to be snipers on the rooftops of nearby buildings. Police have been ordered to deal with protesters “firmly” after a number of attempts to storm the court building were reported, Ahram Online added citing a police source.The protesters continue to demand the “overthrow of the regime” embodied by chants such as “Escalation, escalation! A revolution all over again!”Relatives of Egyptian revolutionary icon Khaled Said, the young man brutally beaten to death by the police in 2010, also joined Friday’s protests.“I want justice and order; I want to get rid of the Muslim Brotherhood. I am not happy with anything that happened over the past six months; they were worse than Mubarak’s 30 years,” Said’s sister told Ahram Online.Voicing Egyptian protesters frustration with the elections, as well as the Muslim Brotherhood-shaped constitution and government, she said they have “disregarded the interest of Egyptians and only went after their own.” 

“We are beyond the point of dialogue now, they have separated people through their judgmental discourse,” Said’s sister added.“Muslim Brotherhood made a dirty deal with the military behind the backs of the majority of the population and they’re going against the interest of a secular state, which the majority of the Egyptian people want,” author and geopolitical analyst William Engdahl told RT.According to Engdahl, while Muslim Brotherhood is the “best organized force in the country,” they are “so preoccupied with this Sharia agenda, this islamization, creating this state which de facto is emerging to be an Islamic fascist regime” that they neglected the real functioning of economy and let it remain in shambles.There’s only one party that will decide the future of Egypt, and that’s the people of Egypt, editor of Al-Quds newspaper, Khaled El Shami, told RT.El Shami believes that Morsi, along with Muslim Brotherhood have no say in what’s happening in Egypt today as they’ve already “disregarded the main goals of revolution: dignity, freedom, social justice.”

Early Friday morning saw heavy clashes between youths and police in Cairo. The protesters were throwing petrol bombs and firecrackers. Police retaliated with plumes of teargas.Reports say police set several tents on Tahrir square ablaze using incendiary bombs thrown by protesters.According to the Health Ministry, 25 people were wounded in the clashes overnight.Protesters accuse Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood of failing to comply with the purposes of the revolution. They demand greater democracy, claiming that Morsi’s party has usurped power.Addressing the nation on Thursday ahead of the anniversary, Morsi urged Egyptians to mark it “in a civilized, peaceful way that safeguards our nation, our institutions, our lives.”His call was ignored as violence has become common in the streets of Egypt. On Monday three people were killed and a dozen more injured in clashes that erupted after a bystander was hit by a bullet fired by police chasing a suspected drug dealer in the north of Cairo.On the same day activists in another Egyptian city, Alexandria, were sprayed with teargas as police tried to disperse the crowds waiting outside the court where several police officers are standing trial for the killing of civilians during the 2011 uprising.Early December saw 10 protesters killed outside the presidential palace as Morsi supporters attacked the sit-in demonstration against the new constitution.The document was passed by a national referendum gaining 64 per cent in favor. President Morsi signed the constitution into law on December 26.