Riots north and south of Israel spread as the “Tunisia effect” hits Egypt, where police used tear gas on tens of thousands protesters trying to produce a momentum that could topple the regime of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. North of the border, Sunni Muslims rioted against the Hizbullah political coup.
Inspired by the massive demonstration in Tunisia two weeks that brought an end to the 23-year regime of Zine El Abidine, the “Front to Defend Egyptian Protesters” took advantage of a national Egyptian holiday to organize demonstrations across the country.
Police fired tear gas on crowds in Cairo, but no live fire was reported.
Most media observers have said that the Tunisia revolution will not easily be duplicated in Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, where the government has complete control of massive police and army forces.
“The security agencies are able to stop any attempt to attend” the protests, Interior Minister Habib Adly told the government-run al-Ahram newspaper. “Youth staging street protests [are] ineffective,” he added. He also rejected comparing Egyptian police brutality and torture with methods used in the toppled Tunisian regime, calling Thursday allegations “propaganda.”
Imitating the Tunisia Twitter and Facebook campaign, anti-government activists demanded a raise in the minimum wage and eradicating laws that allow the government to use police to help maintain rule in emergencies. The radical and outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, which was a part of protests in Jordan following the Tunisian revolution, did not participate in the demonstrations in Egypt.
On Monday Egyptian opposition figure and Nobel Peace laureate Mohamed ElBaradei encouraged police to “regain your role as the protectors of the people rather than protectors of … fraud elections.”
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