CAIRO – At least 17 people were killed across Egypt on Sunday as disparate groups of demonstrators gathered to mark the fourth anniversary of the countryâ€™s 2011 uprising.
Policemen were accused of shooting dead several protesters in the suburbs of northern and western Cairo, in isolated areas known for their weekly Islamist demonstrations. Trouble also flared in the coastal city of Alexandria, where mourners buried a woman killed by police on the eve of the anniversary, and dissidents set fire to a tram.
â€œDown with military rule,â€ chanted many protesters, in a reference to the untrammelled influence of Egyptâ€™s authoritarian president, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, a former army chief, and his coterie of military advisers.
The protests highlighted how an 18-month-long crackdown on dissent has yet to completely eradicate the revolutionary sentiment that toppled Sisiâ€™s predecessor, Hosni Mubarak, four years ago to the day. But the demonstrationsâ€™ modest scale highlighted the reduced appetite for reform among a wider population craving stability after four years of political upheaval.
By nightfall, at least 45 had been injured, in addition to the 17 dead, a health ministry spokesman told the Guardian. Two militants were also allegedly killed while attempting to plant a bomb near pylons in the northern countryside.
Gunmen in a car opened fire on a security checkpoint near the pyramids, killing two policemen, and a bomb wounded two policemen outside a Cairo sports club, security sources said.
Small gatherings were also dispersed in central Cairo, where protesters have rarely ventured since a counter-revolutionary crackdown began in the summer of 2013. But their numbers were far lower, and they were dispersed far quicker, than the demonstrators who swarmed Tahrir Square in 2011, at the start of an uprising that eventually ousted Mubarak.
Four years on, Tahrir Square was closed off, a symbolic and physical reminder of the grip that the security apparatus has re-exerted after a brief period of increased freedom in the aftermath of the 2011 uprising.
The makeup of the protesters also highlighted the divisions that have split Egypt in the years since a coalition of political forces united to call for Mubarakâ€™s departure. Islamists and non-Islamists largely gathered in different locations, the result of the wedge that the short-lived and divisive presidency of the Muslim Brotherhoodâ€™s Mohamed Morsi [http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/jun/27/egyptian-activists-hope-revolution-morsi] â€“ who ruled for a year before being ousted himself by Sisi â€“ drove between revolutionary movements. – The Guardian