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Calm, Only Sporadic Clashes In Cairo After Days Of Violence

posted 27 Jan 2013, 03:00 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 27 Jan 2013, 03:01 ]

A mood of tense calm prevails in Cairo after three days of protest and violence across Egypt, with sporadic clashes near Tahrir Square.

CAIROEGYPT (JANUARY 27, 2013) (REUTERS) - Cairo's Tahrir Square was mostly calm early on Sunday (January 27) although sporadic clashes continued between security forces and anti-President Mohamed Mursi demonstrators.

At least 32 people were killed on Saturday (January 26) when Egyptians rampaged in protest at the sentencing of 21 people to death over the Port Said soccer stadium disaster.

It followed violence on Friday, mainly in the port city of Suez, where nine people were killed.

On a bridge close to Tahrir Square on Sunday, youths were hurling stones at police in riot gear who fired tear gas to push them back towards the square which was the cauldron of the uprising that erupted on Jan. 25, 2011 and toppled President Hosni Mubarak 18 days later.

The U.S. embassy in Cairo, which is near Tahrir Square, said it was suspending public services on Sunday "due to the security situation in the vicinity" of the mission.

There was calm in the square itself on Sunday morning.

Speaking there, Ibrahim Fathy, who returned to Egypt after the ousting of Mubarak, told Reuters he was set to reluctantly leave for a second time because of the destabilized situation in the country.

"I came today to renew my passport but it was very hard to go inside the building. My aim was to leave the country but my family and my friends live here, I was born here and I will die here," he said.

"But I do not like to be called a criminal if I demonstrate in Tahrir Square. I don't want to kill or be killed. I do not like to be described as an outlaw, I hate this."

Among the frustrations for demonstrators are complaints of a crackdown by President Mursi on freedom of opinion and expression.

During 200 days in office, Mursi's office has reportedly filed at least twenty-four lawsuit against journalists accused by insulting the head of the state comparing to only four cases in thirty years of Mubarak's autocratic rule.

Wael Abu el-Lil is a cartoonist who set up an exhibition in Tahrir Square in January 2011.

He has been charged with insulting the President and is being tried by a military court.

"There is nothing in this museum written or drawn by myself," Wael Abu el-Lil stressed.

"I have a created a space, like an online wall, similar to an online page like Twitter, which provides a chance for those people who are not able to express themselves through the media and don't have access to Twitter. This is a space for them to express their views and visitors can comment on these views.

"I think it's simple to use a paper and a pen to express the freedom we have. I have never thrown a stone and never beat anybody. I only use my paper and pen."