CAIRO — Egyptians delivered an angry backlash against President Mohammed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood on Friday, marking the second anniversary of the start of the country's revolution with tens of thousands filling major squares and streets around the country to call for a new regime change.
Two years to the day that protesters first rose up against now-toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak, Egypt is entrenched in the new phase of its upheaval – the struggle between ruling Islamists and their opponents, played out on the backdrop of a worsening economy.
Rallies turned to clashes near Tahrir Square and outside the presidential palace in Cairo and in multiple cities around the country, with police firing tear gas and protesters throwing stones. At least four people, including a 14-year-old boy, were killed in the day's worst clashes, in the city of Suez, where protesters set ablaze a building that once housed the city's local government.
More than 370 were injured nationwide, the Health Ministry said, including five in Suez with gunshot wounds, raising the possibility of a higher death toll, the state news agency said.
Friday's rallies appeared to have brought out at least 500,000 opposition supporters, a small proportion of Egypt's 85 million people, but large enough to suggest that opposition to Morsi and his Islamist allies is strong in a country fatigued by two years of political turmoil, surging crime and a free falling economy that is fueling popular anger. Protests – and clashes – took place in at least 12 of Egypt's 27 provinces, including several that are Islamist strongholds.
After what happened to me, I will never leave until Morsi leaves, said protester Sara Mohammed after she was treated for tear gas inhalation during clashes outside the president's palace in Cairo's Heliopolis district. What can possibly happen to us? Will we die? That's fine, because then I will be with God as a martyr. Many have died before us and even if we don't see change, future generations will.