By Betsy Hiel
CAIRO – Crowds across Egypt chanted down a Muslim Brotherhood-led government on Friday, two years after the start of an uprising that ended the 30-year dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak.
Clashes here and elsewhere injured more than 250 people. Four deaths were reported in the city of Suez.
Tens of thousands filled Cairo’s Tahrir Square – epicenter of the 2011 revolt – to condemn Mubarak’s successor, Muhammed Morsy.
On cement block-barricaded streets, young men heaved rocks and Molotov cocktails at police firing tear gas and birdshot.
Egypt’s most influential novelist, Ala’a Al Aswany, said “the Brotherhood can’t impose their constitution on us” as he joined marchers heading to the square.
In December, Egyptians adopted a controversial constitution written by a Brotherhood-dominated panel. Morsy endorsed it after first claiming near-dictatorial powers as president.
His power-grab united a fractious opposition into the National Salvation Front, led by Nobel laureate and former U.N. atomic-weapons chief Mohamad El Baradei.
Aswany accused Morsy of “violating the independence of the judiciary” but said he is “optimistic we will overcome all this.”
Karim Kholy, 33, a dentist, said he joined the protests “to show the Brotherhood that we are a significant part of the population that doesn’t share their view for the future of Egypt.”
“Morsy is not delivering, and the Muslim Brotherhood’s religious image is just geared towards getting votes and not showing ethical values,” he said.
Crowds chanted against Morsy and Brotherhood leader Mohamed Badie.
“None of the revolution’s goals have been met,” said protester Shadi Moussa, 28. “There is no justice and no freedom. The Muslim Brotherhood is clamping down on the press.
“I would rather die for my freedoms than worry about it,” he declared.
Opposition leader Ziad El Elimi, 32, a former parliamentarian, said the new constitution is worse than Mubarak-era laws. “We think the old regime is continuing under the Muslim Brotherhood,” he said.
Women and Christians are especially concerned about the Islamic-leaning constitution, which protester Lamia Hassan said “neglects women.”
One sign in Tahrir proclaimed: “As the prophet said, if you rule Christians, you must treat them well.”
Radical Islamists increasingly have attacked Christians in the past two years, burning homes or churches and forcing them to flee some villages.
Muhammed Wahdan, 52, an education ministry worker, held a sign echoing the growing frustration with U.S. policy that the opposition sees as backing the Brotherhood. It read: “From Tahrir Square to the U.S. media … Obama you jerk, Muslim Brotherhood are killing Egyptians.”
“I am well aware that Obama and the American administration are the ones who enabled the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood,” he said. “I want to tell Obama that the Muslim Brotherhood tricked you.”
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Betsy Hiel is the Tribune-Review’s foreign correspondent. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.