News / Africa

Protesters Gather Outside Egypt's Presidential Palace

Anti-government protesters gather outside Egypt's presidential palace in Cairo, Feb. 1, 2013.
Anti-government protesters gather outside Egypt's presidential palace in Cairo, Feb. 1, 2013.
Reuters
Opponents of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi hurled molotov cocktails at his palace on Friday as protesters returned to the streets of Egypt demanding his overthrow after the deadliest violence of his seven months in power.

Youths threw about two dozen molotov cocktails and launched fireworks at the outer wall of the presidential compound in Cairo as night fell and thousands of peaceful demonstrators had dispersed.

Police fired water cannon and tear gas at the crowd. The roof of a building in the compound appeared to catch fire.

The head of the Republican Guard, which protects the palace, condemned the attack and what he described as attempts to climb the compound walls and storm one of its gates. In a statement to the state news agency, he urged the protesters to keep their demonstration peaceful.

Earlier there were scuffles in the central Tahrir Square, a focal point of the revolution that overthrew authoritarian President Hosni Mubarak two years ago. Police fired tear gas at stone throwing youths. However there were no reports of serious bloodshed by nightfall.

Protests marking the second anniversary of the uprising that toppled Mubarak have killed nearly 60 people since Jan. 25, prompting the head of the army to warn this week that the state was on the verge of collapse.

Port Said

Men dressed in mourning black marched through the Suez Canal city of Port Said, scene of the worst bloodshed of the past nine days, chanting and shaking their fists in one of the protests that brought thousands to the streets across the country.

 "There is no God but God and Mohamed Morsi is the enemy of God,'' they chanted. Brandishing portraits of those killed in recent days, they shouted: "We will die like they did, to get justice!''

For the Port Said marchers, Friday was also the first anniversary of a soccer stadium riot that killed 70 people last year. Death sentences handed down on Saturday against 21 Port Said men over the riots helped fuel the past week's violence there, which saw dozens shot dead in clashes with police.

Morsi imposed a curfew and emergency rule in Port Said and two other canal cities on Sunday, a move that only seems to have added to the sense of local grievance.

 Mohamed Ahmed, 26, protesting at the presidential palace,
 said: "I am here because I want my rights, the ones the revolution called for and which were never achieved.''

 Protesters also marched in other cities. In Alexandria they blocked major roads and staged a sit-in on the railway.

 The protesters accuse Morsi of betraying the spirit of the revolution by concentrating too much power in his own hands and those of his Muslim Brotherhood. The Brotherhood accuses the opposition of trying to overthrow the first democratically elected leader in Egypt's 5,000-year history.

Violence disavowed

 Friday's marches took place despite an intervention by Ahmed al-Tayyeb, head of the 1,000-year-old al-Azhar university and mosque, who hauled in politicians for crisis talks on Thursday where they signed a charter disavowing violence. Morsi's foes said the pact did not require them to call off demonstrations.

 "We brought down the Mubarak regime with a peaceful revolution and are determined to realise the same goals in the same way, regardless of the sacrifices or the barbaric oppression,'' tweeted Mohamed ElBaradei, a former head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog who has become a secularist leader.

Leftist leader Hamdeen Sabahi said in a statement he would not enter talks until bloodshed was halted, a state of emergency lifted and those to blame for the violence brought to justice.

"Our aim ... is to complete the goals of the glorious January revolution: bread, freedom and social justice,'' he said.

Tahrir Square has become a graffitti-scarred monument to Egypt's perpetual turmoil, strewn with barbed wire and burnt out cars. Hundreds of protesters gathered in rain while vendors sold flag bracelets, pharaonic statues, sunflower seeds and water.

A man with a microphone shouted to a crowd of a few hundred, calling for Mursi to be put on trial.

"We came here to get rid of Mursi,'' said furniture dealer
 Mohammed al-Nourashi, 57. "He's only a president for the Brotherhood.'' As he spoke, a crowd gathered.

 "Why is Obama supporting Mursi and the Brotherhood? Why?'' a man shouted, challenging the U.S. president's policy on Egypt.

 Osama Mohammed, 24, selling fruit from a battered wooden cart, said he graduated with a degree in commerce in 2007 but hadn't been able to find work - the sort of economic problems that caused the 2011 uprising and have only gotten worse since. He was not on the square for politics, just business.

"I've come every Friday because there's traffic,'' he said. "If the protests stay peaceful, it's no problem.''

Ungovernable

The rise of an elected Islamist after nearly 60 years of rule by secular military men in the most populous Arab state is the most important change achieved by two years of Arab revolts.

But seven months since taking power after a narrow election victory over an ex-officer, Mursi has failed to unite Egyptians and protests have made the country seem all but ungovernable. The turmoil has worsened an economic crisis, forcing Cairo to drain its currency reserves to prop up its pound.

 Brotherhood leader Mohamed Badie, on his Facebook page, blamed the unrest on "regional and international forces which aim for instability and to stir up problems and ignite strife to damage Egypt ... to thwart the democratic transition''.

 Brotherhood followers have clashed with demonstrators in the past, especially at the presidential palace, but the group has kept its men off the streets during the latest violence.

 It is far from clear that opposition politicians could call off the street demonstrations, even if they wanted to.

"You have groups who clearly just want a confrontation with the state - straightforward anarchy; you've got people who supported the original ideals of the revolution and feel those ideals have been betrayed,'' said a diplomat. "And then you have elements of the old regime who have it in their interests to foster insecurity and instability. It is an unhealthy alliance.''

Many Egyptians are fed up.

"We are exhausted. This protests thing is a political game whose price the people are paying. I hate them all - liberals and Brotherhood,'' said Abdel Halim Adel, 60, near the presidential palace.

You May Like

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Works to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Smithsonian senior research botanist Vicki Funk says ultimate goal is 'trying to get one-half of the diversity of plant life on Earth at the genus level in two years' More

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

Report from member of British think tank says Russian extradition requests keep targets from traveling More

US Lawmakers Weigh Turkish Anti-terror Moves

Turkey’s two-pronged campaign against Islamic State militants, Kurdish PKK forces provokes mixed reactions on Capitol Hill More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponentsi
X
Henry Ridgwell
July 28, 2015 9:53 PM
A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video Special Olympics Athletes Meet International Friends

The Special Olympics are underway in Los Angeles, California, with athletes from 165 countries participating in an event that gives people with intellectual disabilities the chance to take part in an international competition. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that for athletes and their families, it's also an opportunity to make new friends in an international setting.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Iran Nuclear Pact Wins Few New US Congressional Backers

Later this week, President Barack Obama returns from a trip to Africa to confront a U.S. Congress roiled by the nuclear accord with Iran, an agreement that has received the blessing of the U.N. Security Council. Days of intensive lobbying and testimony by top administration officials have won few new congressional supporters of the pact. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Critics of Japan Defense Policy Focus on Okinawa

In Okinawa, many locals have long complained that Tokyo places an unfair burden on the tiny island by locating most of Japan's U.S. military bases there. As Japan's government moves toward strengthening and expanding the country's defense policies, opponents of those plans are joining local protesters in Okinawa, voicing concern about where the country is headed. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Okinawa.
Video

Video IS Uses Chemical Weapons in Syrian Attack

Islamic State militants have added a new weapon in their arsenal of fear: chemical weapons. VOA Kurdish service reporter Zana Omer was on the scene within hours of a recent attack in Hasakah, Syria, and has details of the subsequent investigation, in this report narrated by Miguel Amaya.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs