Police Crack Down On Peaceful Protesters In Tahrir Square
Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood had organized a rally in the square Friday to oppose a new document outlining guidelines that would grant the military more power and influence while diminishing parliament authority.
Newsday summarized the instability that has continued to plague the country's political outlook since Hosni Mubarak's ouster:
Groups across the political spectrum rejected the document, calling it an attempt by the military to perpetuate its rule past the post-Mubarak transition. Back in February, the military had promised it would return to the country to civilian rule within six months. Now, there is deep uncertainty over the timeline, and presidential elections might not be held until 2013.
A reported 500,000 Islamist demonstrators showed up Friday to voice outrage at the new constitution and later dispersed without incident. Afterward, roughly 200 protesters set up camp to incite a large-scale sit-in.
Police descended Saturday morning, beating the camped-out demonstrators while tearing down their tents. Calls from the campers for civilian back-up went out over social media networks, prompting an estimated 5,000 protesters to return to the square. The resulting scene was reminiscent of February's 18-day uprising against former president Mubarak.
The BBC reported:
One of them, Ali Abdel Aziz, said security forces beat up protesters to break up the sit-in.
"They beat us harshly, they didn't care for either men or women," the 32-year-old accountancy professor told AFP news agency.
"The interior ministry must take responsibility. We have one demand, the military council must go," he said.
The country's Ministry of Health reported the death of a 23-year-old protester by gunshot and 676 injuries in the public square's largest rally in months. No word yet on what effect this unrest will have on the parliamentary elections scheduled to begin in a little over a week.
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