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28 Jan, 2013 10:42

Egyptians protest curfew as clashes continue after Morsi’s ‘emergency’ announcement (VIDEO)

Thousands of anti-government protesters have taken to the streets of three Egyptian cities in defiance of President Mohamed Morsi’s declaration of a curfew and state of emergency announcement.

In Ismailia, crowds shouted, "Down down with Mohamed Morsi, down down with the state of emergency." Similar slogans were heard in the other cities along the Suez Canal.Police have responded by firing teargas, Cairo-based journalist Bel Trew reported.The 9pm to 6am curfew has been set in the three most volatile cities of Port Said, Suez, and Ismailia. Many people believe a curfew will also be imposed on the capital, where police again fired teargas at rock-throwing protesters in Tahrir Square. A bystander was shot dead in clashes near the iconic venue, AFP reported Monday morning. It remains unclear whether he was the victim of government forces or protesters.Earlier Monday, police tear-gassed protesters in Cairo as clashes still gripped Egypt despite a declared state of emergency. The main opposition group meanwhile rejects president Morsi’s call for a dialogue as unrest enters its fifth day. The violent unrest across Egypt rages on despite a 30-day state of emergency in Egypt starting Monday evening that President Morsi declared earlier. There have also been reports protesters torched a security vehicle in Tahrir.Thousands of people took to the streets of Port Said on Monday to attend funerals of the most recent victims of the clashes. Reuters reported that some mourners waved teargas canisters at television cameras.

Talks rejected

As the violence continues leaving now some 50 people dead, Egypt’s main opposition group, the National Salvation Front, has rejected President Mohamed Morsi’s calls for senior politicians and groups to join a national dialogue, saying it "could only lead to a dead end."Speaking after the emergency meeting Monday afternoon, leading member of the coalition, Mohamed ElBaradei, said the proposal by the Islamist leader was "cosmetic and not substantive.”"The dialogue must be based on certain promises. The "National Dialogue" has been a failure.  And so, they don’t want to give the President any PR…there were many instances in which the opposition was set for talks with the government and the President agreed on something and after a while you found that there was no agreement. And that is why they decided not to join," political sociologist at The American University in Cairo, Said Sadek, told RT. The National Salvation Front will only attend talks, ElBaradei stressed, if a list of conditions laid by the opposition is met. Earlier, smaller opposition groups also rejected president Morsi’s offer to negotiate because “dialogue is a waste of time if the president doesn't take responsibility for the bloodshed.”The opposition is demanding a national salvation government be formed, the resignation of the cabinet and the constitution to be revoked.

Shortly after the state of emergency was declared, some 200 people marched in the streets of Ismailia, Reuters reported citing witnesses. "Down with Morsi, down with the state of emergency," they chanted.There have been reports of male mobs groping and assaulting isolated women in Tahrir Square amid the unrest. Twenty-five cases of sexual assault have been reported over the last few days. Some have been stripped naked and one was raped, local women’s rights campaigners told The Guardian.Egypt's cabinet later approved a draft law to give the army the power to arrest civilians. A cabinet source told Reuters that the army would "behave like a police force," meaning detainees would go to a civilian, rather than a military court."I promised not to take extraordinary measures unless I was forced to, and here I am doing so,” President Morsi said in his televised address on Sunday evening. "I instructed Interior Ministry officials to strictly deal with whoever threatens people and public and private institutions."Washington has strongly condemned the situation, calling on leaders to make clear that the violence is not acceptable.

However, Bel Trew told RT that there "have already been calls for protests to break this curfew starting at 8pm [Monday night], they say, in defiance of the president.”"Security forces are now able to arrest citizens and detain them for up to 30 days without charges. So we’re likely to see a wave of arrests across those three cities as people violate the curfew and clash with police,” she said.

Rallies have been taking place in Cairo, Alexandria, Suez and half a dozen other places. Many of the actions have become violent. Protesters have taken to the streets in greater numbers following Saturday’s death sentence verdicts over a stadium stampede last February.On Sunday, thousands turned out for the funerals of 35 rioters who were killed in previous Port Said protests on Saturday. Teargas was fired in the vicinity and gunfire was heard nearby. In Cairo, there was so much teargas in the air that Trew was struggling to get her words out.