Police beat protesters, use water cannon and teargas during coordinated protests in Cairo and other cities
Thousands of Egyptians demanded an end to President Hosni Mubarak's 30-year rule and three people were killed in unprecedented countrywide protests on Tuesday inspired by the revolt that brought down Tunisia's president.
"Down, down, Hosni Mubarak," chanted protesters in Cairo, where police fired teargas and used water cannon, and protesters hurled bottles and rocks at them.
Two protesters in the city of Suez, east of Cairo, died as a result of rubber bullets, security and medical sources said. State television said one security officer died in central Cairo because of a blow to the head from a stone that was thrown.
Some protesters were beaten hard by police with sticks. Others, in a rare show of nerve against a huge national security operation, chased police down side streets. Reuters TV footage showed one policeman joining the demonstrators.
In Alexandria protesters tore down a picture of Mubarak, 82, and one of his son, Gamal, who many Egyptians believe is being groomed for office when his father stands down.
Protesters in Cairo who joined the Web activists' call for action said: "Gamal, tell your father Egyptians hate you."
Egyptians have the same complaints that drove Tunisians onto the streets: surging food prices, poverty, unemployment and authoritarian rule that smothers public protests quickly and often brutally.
Egyptian protests usually draw only a few hundred people. The large numbers and the fact that protests in several cities were coordinated in a way not seen before gave Tuesday's events a force unprecedented since Mubarak took office in 1981.
"What is happening today is a major warning to the system. It is both an extension of pent-up frustrations and continued protests. What is also new is that there are new generations who are using new tools," said analyst Nabil Abdel Fattah.
The protest could gather momentum unless the state swiftly addressed the demand for reform, he said.
With most formal opposition groups fractured and toothless, Web activists led the calls for Tuesday's demonstrations, billed as a "Day of Wrath" against poverty and repression.
By drawing demonstrators in such numbers, online activists have shown their calls for political change can reach a broad audience. Until now most of the rage has stayed on the Internet.
"We are gathered here to demand our rights. We can't live. Everything is expensive and there is unemployment. We want prices to go down. This government is the reason for our suffering," said Ibrahim, 33, in Mahalla el Kubra, the site of 2008 riots over subsidised bread shortages and price rises.
Other demonstrations took place in Ismailia and Suez, both cities east of Cairo, and in other Nile Delta cities like Mansoura and Tanta. Protesters also gathered in north Sinai.
"Where are you, freedom?" protesters chanted in Ismailia, while in Alexandria they shouted: "Revolution, revolution, like a volcano, against Mubarak the coward."
As scuffles broke out in Cairo, some protesters shouted: "Keep it peaceful. No one throws anything."
A security source said 15 people were detained in Cairo. Another source said two police officers were injured in Suez when rocks were hurled. Witnesses saw some protesters being dragged off to vehicles by police.
In north Sinai, witnesses and a security source said dozens of protesters lit tyres and blocked a coastal road to Rafah on the border with Gaza, calling for prisoners to be released. The area has seen tension between Bedouin and police.
The Interior Ministry earlier said it would deal firmly with anyone breaking the law and said demonstrators could face arrest. But Interior Minister Habib al Adli told a state newspaper he welcomed stationary protests for short periods.
"We have orders not to clash with them (protesters)," one security officer was heard saying, while on a mobile phone earlier in the demonstration in Cairo before scuffles began.
Analysts had expected the authorities to show a more tolerant attitude for fear of provoking the kind of anger that drove Tunisians into weeks of unrest before the overthrow of President Zine al Abidine Ben Ali after 23 years in office.
Ben Ali fled to Saudi Arabia, and some of the Cairo protesters chanted: "Oh Mubarak, Saudi Arabia awaits you."
Egypt's registered opposition parties are weak and fragmented. The banned Muslim Brotherhood, seen as having Egypt's biggest grassroots network, has not called on members to take part but said some would join in a personal capacity.
"I will go to the streets on the 25th of January because this country is my country and I vow an oath that I am ready and willing to die for its sake," wrote Mohamed M on a Facebook group that called for protests and has 87,000 supporters.
One Twitter entry urged police to join the "people's side". Some Web users complained of Internet network problems during the protest, with patchy access to some sites like Twitter.
"In my book, if you get a tenth of the 80,000 people or so who support the initiative online, it will be a success," wrote Issandr El Amrani on his blog arabist.net before the protests.
For the sake of saving the millions of innocent people of a Muslim nation or any nation for that matter, the Ummah have to accept the present leadership rather than changing the regime, create massive anarchy by getting help from insincere and manipulating world powers.
Iraq is right in front of our eyes. Tens of thousands of People like me hated Saddam Hussein and went to the extent of morally co-operating with his opponents and dissidents in seeking help to punish Saddam and overthrow his administration What were the consequences?
But right now the same people feel the foolishness, naivety and immaturity of such political thinking and wish if only Saddam had remained in power and we could have saved the deaths of about 1.2 million Iraqis and about 400,000 people becoming refugees, over 600,000 widows and about 500,000 orphans. Who was responsible for this tragedy?
Husni Mubarak is attacking his own people with American bullets and tear gas cannons. "Made in USA" marked on burnt cannons on the streets of Cairo for its people to understand the conspiracy of democracy and controlling violence. It is not surprising why there is so much anti-American sentiment across the world and more so in the Muslim world. This is another case study of U.S. foreign policy of aiding arms and financing a dictator for decades and ending up on the wrong side of history. At least now the U.S. government and the people should stop hoping for Mubarak to hang-on. Many may wonder which military strongman that the CIA is going to recommend to replace Mubaruk.
Husni Mubaruk has chosen a man he can trust while the people are trying to chase him away. But Mr. Suleiman, a former general, is also the Mubarukâ€™s candidate, not the one that the people of Egypt will approve.