Egyptian youths, police clash in fourth day of violence
By Edmund Blair ,ReutersCAIRO -- Police fired teargas at dozens of stone-throwing protesters in Cairo on Sunday in a fourth day of street clashes that have killed at least 42 people and compounded the challenges facing President Mohammed Morsi.
January 28, 2013, 12:00 am TWN
In the worst violence, security sources said 33 people died in Port Said on Saturday when protests erupted after a court sentenced 21 people, mostly from the city, to death for their role in a deadly stadium disaster last year.
Thousands of mourners joined funeral processions for the dead in Port Said on Sunday, a witness said by telephone, adding that he heard gunshots and the sound of emergency vehicle sirens. But there were no immediate reports of new casualties.
Morsi's rivals have also taken to streets across Egypt since Thursday, accusing him and his Islamist allies of betraying the uprising that overthrew Hosni Mubarak in 2011.
“None of the revolution's goals have been realized,” said Mohamed Sami, a protester in Cairo's Tahrir Square on Sunday.
“Prices are going up. The blood of Egyptians is being spilt in the streets because of neglect and corruption and because the Muslim Brotherhood is ruling Egypt for their own interests.”
On a bridge close to Tahrir Square, youths hurled stones at police in riot gear who fired teargas to push them back towards the square, the cauldron of the uprising that erupted on Jan. 25, 2011 and toppled Mubarak 18 days later.
The latest protests were initially timed to mark Friday's revolt anniversary. The U.S. and UK embassies, both near Tahrir, said they were closed for public business Sunday.
The violence adds to the daunting task facing Morsi as he tries to fix a beleaguered economy and cool tempers before a parliamentary election expected in the next few months which is supposed to cement Egypt's transition to democracy.
It has exposed a deep rift in the nation. Liberals and other opponents accuse Morsi of failing to deliver on economic promises and say he has not lived up to pledges to represent all Egyptians. His backers say the opposition is seeking to topple Egypt's first freely elected leader by undemocratic means.
The army, Egypt's interim ruler until Morsi's election in June, was sent back onto the streets to restore order in Port Said and Suez, another port city on the Suez Canal where at least eight people have been killed in clashes with police.
In Port Said, residents had reported gunshots overnight and shops and many workplaces were shut on Sunday. Residents said the city had been tense ahead of the funerals amid fears the burials could set off further violence.
Many Egyptians are frustrated by the regular escalations that have hurt the economy and their livelihoods.
“They are not revolutionaries protesting,” said taxi driver Kamal Hassan, 30, referring to those gathered in Tahrir. “They are thugs destroying the country.”
The National Defense Council, headed by Morsi, has called for a national dialogue to discuss political differences.
That offer has been cautiously welcomed by the opposition National Salvation Front. But the coalition has demanded a clear agenda and guarantees that any agreements will be implemented.
The Front, formed late last year when Morsi provoked protests and violence by expanding his powers and driving through an Islamist-tinged constitution, has threatened to boycott the parliamentary poll and to call for more protests if a list of demands is not met, including having an early presidential vote.