Egypt protesters urge change amid fresh battles

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PROTESTERS and riot police clashed in Cairo and Port Said yesterday as Egypt’s political violence continued despite efforts by the president to contain the crisis by imposing a state of emergency in three provinces.

At least 56 people have been killed in the wave of violence, which has led to the military being deployed and which threatens to shake the control of Islamist president Mohammed Morsi’s government.

The main opposition coalition rejected Mr Morsi’s call for national dialogue to resolve the crisis, demanding that he first make deep concessions to break what opponents call the monopoly that Islamists have tried to impose on power.

The National Salvation Front said it wouldn’t join any dialogue until Mr Morsi forms a national unity government and begins work to rewrite parts of the Islamist-backed constitution.

Mr Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, which forms the backbone of his rule, have instead tried to take a tougher approach. An angry Mr Morsi appeared on national TV on Sunday night and declared a 30-day state of emergency in the Suez Canal provinces of Port Said, Ismailiya and Suez.

In Port Said yesterday – the hardest hit city so far, with at least 44 people killed in clashes over the weekend – thousands poured out into the streets for the funerals of six people killed during clashes the day before.

In Cairo, hundreds of stone-throwing protesters fought pitched battles with riot police. Anger over Mr Morsi’s latest measures was evident.

Mohammed Saber, 65, an engineer, said: “People died to gain their freedom, social justice, bread. Now after 29 years of the despotic Mubarak, we’re ruled by a worse regime: religious fascist, more dangerous.”