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Egypt war anniversary erupts in violence

Divisions again exposed as anti-coup protesters clash with police on night Egypt marked 40th anniversary of Israel war.

Last Modified: 07 Oct 2013 04:37
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Mohamed Sayed, 19, collapsed after inhaling tear gas during Sunday's violence in Cairo [Al Jazeera]

Cairo, Egypt - Protesters have described a night of chaos and violence in Egypt as the 40th anniversary of the war with Israel highlighted how polarised Egypt remains.

Sunday's riots were the biggest in weeks in Egypt, as protesters used the 40th anniversary of Egypt’s war with Israel to oppose the current military government which removed President Mohamed Morsi.

Thousands took to streets throughout the country despite warnings from the military led government that protests against its rule would not be tolerated.

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Scores of people were killed and hundreds injured in the violence.

Mostafa Ramadan, an anti-coup protester and student at Al-Azhar University, suffered injuries to the head after being hit by a rock and was struck in the hand with birdshot.

"We were walking peacefully in the march from Mohandessine area, in Giza, when we found police forces waiting for us under the bridge," he said.

"We kept saying we are peaceful, but they cursed us and started firing tear-gas bombs on us and live ammunition."

Mohamed Sayed,19, said he collapsed after inhaling tear gas.

"I fell to the ground when I inhaled too much tear gas, I saw the security forces come for me before I passed out, I was terrified, but my fellow protesters saved me."

Shots ring out

Once security forces started throwing tear-gas cannisters and gunfire echoed in the air in Dokki area, the protesters shouted "Stand still" and ''God is Great".

The military's main celebration of its war with Israel in the Sinai in 1973 was held at Tahrir Square - the focal point of so much of Egypt's recent history and the destination for many anti-coup protesters emboldened by Muslim Brotherhood calls to take over the area.

A heavy police presence and three rings of barricades, however, impeded their march.

"Tahrir Square will show our big numbers and all the world has its eyes on Tahrir Square," Refaat Ahmed, anti-coup protester, said.

"Today is a great day of victory for all Egyptians, we are celebrating like everyone else, we are not against the army, but we are against its corrupt leaders, who threw our votes in the rubbish," he said.

Ahmed Said, another anti-coup protester, said: "Tahrir belongs to all of us. We will destroy the Tahrir barriers created by [Abdel Fattah] el-Sisi, to keep the square to himself and his supporters. This is not only Sisi's country its our country too."

View from inside

Inside the police barricades stood thousands of people celebrating the October 6 anniversary.

"Tahrir Square is an icon, it's our icon; the revolutionaries. The Muslim Brotherhood want to take it away from us," said Rania Fathy who went to Tahrir with her two young daughters.

"Tahrir is the symbol of the revolution. The Muslim Brotherhood believe that if they take it over, they will return to their old glory, but nothing will bring them back to that," Nehad Adel said.

Ahmed Fouad, a former military lieutenant who participated in the 1973 war, said: "The Muslim Brotherhood have always been traitors, but standing against the army today is grand treason.

"Today is not only a celebration of the 1973 war, but a celebration for us now for getting rid of the hypocrites, the Muslim Brotherhood, when they are really criminals."

Maysa Ali, 50, agreed.

"For the Muslim Brotherhood to call for protests against the army today is a flagrant defiance against the Egyptian people and a kind of intimidation," she said.

"We support the army and the police forces and our country, unlike them."

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Source:
Al Jazeera
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