Mohamed Mahmoud protests kick off

Tuesday began with marches commemorating the second anniversary of five-day-long clashes between protesters and police on Mohamed Mahmoud Street in November 2011, when over 50 people were killed. 

The day has already been marked by political rivalry over the commemoration of the bloody event. 

At the street of Mohamed Mahmoud itself, witnesses reported clashes between pro-military groups and their opponents on Tuesday morning. 

The clashes were reported to be between the April 6 Youth Movement and the Revolutionary Socialists on one hand and pro-military groups on the other, the privately owned Al-Masry Al-Youm reported. 

Military chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s supporters chanted “Sisi is my president,” which angered their opponents and prompted police to intervene and separate the two groups, Al-Masry Al-Youm reported. 

In Tahrir Square, pro-military groups arriving to take part in the commemoration, according to the state owned Al-Ahram, such as the campaign dubbed, “Complete your Favor” which calls on Sisi to run for president.

Al-Ahram reported that a group of protesters the campaign’s members from reaching Tahrir Square. Eyewitnesses told Mada Masr that this led to clashes between the two groups, and that police then fired tear gas to separate them. The pro-Sisi group left while their opponents moved into Tahrir, where the situation is now calmer.

Mada Masr also witnessed a pro-Sisi group gathering near the memorial set up by the government on Monday to commemorate the events, only to be vandalized by protesters later on Monday night. The group was chanting for Sisi. 

Other protesters started flocking to the square the mark the day. Many carried signs against both the military and the Muslim Brotherhood, one reading, “No Brothers and no military, the revolution is back to the square.”

Mada Masr saw a group of about 100 protesters wearing t-shirts with a three-fingered symbol. They said that it symbolizes their being a third force that does not support the military or the Brotherhood. The symbol is reminiscent of the four-fingered sign raised by Brotherhood supporters to represent the Rabea al-Adaweya sit-in, which demanded the reinstatement of President Mohamed Morsi, after it was forcibly dispersed on August 14, killing hundreds. The Tahrir protesters carried signs reading “bread, freedom and justice.” 

Meanwhile, a student march launched on Tuesday from Ain Shams University as part of a larger protest called for by a Facebook group titled “Students Against the Coup,” which also included marches from Nour Mosque in Abbaseya. The call for protests was part of the Brotherhood’s plans to commemorate the Mohamed Mahmoud events.

Military forces closed a main street leading to the Ministry of Defense to prevent Brotherhood-affliated student marches from reaching the ministry, Al-Masry Al-Youm reported. Military forces also fired warning shots to disperse protesters. 

The first round of Mohamed Mahmoud violence in happened in 2011 when the country was under the rule of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces and with the sanction of the Brotherhood. Clashes were sparked again on the first anniversary of the event in 2012, under Morsi’s rule. 

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