Tens of thousands protest Muslim Brotherhood-led government in Egypt

E anniv protestsBy 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.”

Read more at Tribune Review and see the incredible photo slide show by Justin Merriman

Betsy Hiel is the Tribune-Review’s foreign correspondent. Email her at  bhiel@tribweb.com.