Crisis Watch - Egypt

This week unprecedented violence across Egypt has claimed over 50 lives, culminating in fierce clashes in front of the presidential palace in the capital city, Cairo. This current spate of confrontation began on 24 January, on the second anniversary of the uprising against former President, Hosni Mubarak. Protesters claim that current President Morsi has betrayed the original values of the revolution, and demand an end to what they term a new form of authoritarianism.

On Tuesday, the head of Egypt's army, General Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, declared that the violence could lead to state collapse. Last weekend President Morsi had declared a state of emergency and a night time curfew in three particularly restive cities along the Suez Canal: Port Said, Ismailia and Port Suez. Indeed, some of the worst violence has been seen in Port Said in reaction to the death sentences dealt out to 21 football fans in January. Ignoring the curfew, anti-government protesters took to the streets and violent clashes took place in all three cities.

Violence has continued unabated throughout the week in Tahrir Square too, where thousands of protesters hurled petrol bombs and launched fireworks outside the presidential compound on Saturday morning. At least one person was shot dead and 50 injured in these clashes, which were further fuelled by footage showing riot police officers stripping and beating a protester on the streets – a broadcast that promptly went viral. The State has since issued an apology. However, despite efforts by the head of the Al-Azhar mosque, Sheikh Ahmed Al-Tayeb, to force a disavowal of violence from all sides, Cairo's foreseeable future seems far from calm.

Amritha John

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