Qatar evacuates 209 students from Egypt troubles

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Egyptian opposition protesters celebrate on July 1, 2013 in Cairo's landmark Tahrir square after Egypt's armed forces gave President Mohamed Morsi (portrait) 48 hours to meet the demands of the people or it would intervene with a roadmap. (AFP/Getty Images)

Egyptian opposition protesters celebrate on July 1, 2013 in Cairo's landmark Tahrir square after Egypt's armed forces gave President Mohamed Morsi (portrait) 48 hours to meet the demands of the people or it would intervene with a roadmap. (AFP/Getty Images)

Qatar Airways has airlifted 209 students from Cairo as the political crisis escalades in the Arab country, the state news agency said.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in coordination with state-backed Qatar Airways, has been operating additional flights to Cairo to transport Qatari students studying in Egypt, in the light of the worsening situation there, the Qatar News Agency (QNA) said.

In total, 209 students have been flown to Doha and the Qatari Embassy in Cairo opened a control room last week to monitor operations and to facilitate the airlifting of nationals out of the country. The move comes as the ministry has called on all Qatari citizens in Egypt to leave for their own safety.

The airlift occurred as millions of Egyptians flooded into the streets at the weekend on the first anniversary of Islamist President Mohamed Mursi's inauguration to demand that he resign in the biggest challenge so far to rule by his Muslim Brotherhood.

Waving national flags and chanting "Get out!", a crowd of nearly 500,000 massed in and around Cairo's central Tahrir Square in by far the largest demonstration since the 2011 uprising that overthrew Mursi's predecessor, Hosni Mubarak.

"The people want the fall of the regime!" they shouted, echoing the Arab Spring rallying cry that brought down Mubarak - this time yelling it not against an ageing dictator but against the first elected leader in Egypt's 5,000-year recorded history.

A military source said as many as 14 million people in this nation of 84 million took part in weekend demonstrations in sweltering heat. There was no independent way to verify that estimate, which seemed implausibly high, but the armed forces used helicopters to monitor the crowds.

Militants hurling petrol bombs and rocks and firing shotguns attacked the Brotherhood's national headquarters in a Cairo suburb, sending flames billowing from the main entrance. There was no sign of police protection or fire fighters.

Hundreds of thousands of protesters marched through the Mediterranean port of Alexandria, Egypt's second city, and large protests were reported in at least 20 towns around the country.

Tens of thousands of Mursi supporters congregated outside a Cairo mosque not far from the main presidential palace but made no contact with the anti-government protesters.

Interviewed by a British newspaper, Mursi voiced his resolve to ride out what he sees as an undemocratic attack on his electoral legitimacy. He offered to revise the Islamist-inspired constitution, saying clauses on religious authority, which fuelled liberal resentment, were not his choice.

US President Barack Obama called for dialogue and warned that trouble in the most populous Arab nation could unsettle an already turbulent region. Washington has evacuated non-essential personnel and reinforced security at diplomatic missions.

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Posted by: Waleed

Really? Only half a million in Tahrir Square...

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