Thousands of demonstrators converged on Tahrir Square in downtown Cairo and on the streets around Egypt’s presidential palace to protest against President Mohammed Morsi’s efforts to expand his powers.
By nightfall, fierce altercations had broken out in front of Mr. Morsi’s palace, where masked demonstrators lobbed Molotov cocktails and firecrackers at police officers and over the high palace walls.
Police responded by firing volleys of tear gas. In one incident broadcast on television, police could be seen beating a protester while stripping him of his clothing. Egypt’s presidency said they would begin an investigation into the incident.
Friday’s fighting unfolded against a backdrop of back-and-forth recriminations and failed negotiations between secularist and Islamist political forces in Egypt, as well as between protesters and the politicians who claim to represent their demands. The lack of compromise has polarized Egypt and driven its economy to the brink of collapse.
The fighting began last Friday when peaceful protests against Mr. Morsi’s rule on the second anniversary of the uprising called by opposition leaders devolved into clashes, particularly in the city of Suez.
The following day, a Cairo court sentenced 21 soccer fans, mostly residents of the coastal city of Port Said, to death for their role in a soccer melee a year ago that killed 74 people.
When Port Said residents tried to attack the prison housing the accused, they set off a week of deadly riots across the country.
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