Egypt protesters block doors to Cairo administrative hub

Updated 24 February 2013
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Egypt protesters block doors to Cairo administrative hub

CAIRO: Protesters yesterday blocked the doors to Cairo’s main administrative building as part of a growing campaign of civil disobedience around the country against President Muhammad Mursi.
A group of protesters closed the doors of the Mugamma, a massive labyrinth of bureaucratic offices on the edge of Tahrir Square, leaving only a side exit for employees to leave, employees said.
“This is a call for civil disobedience... We want the implementation of the goals of the revolution such as social justice as well as a delay of parliamentary elections,” which is set for April 22, one of the protesters said, declining to give his name.
“We must break the monopoly of the state by Brotherhood,” he said of the Islamist movement from which Mursi hails. Since a November decree that pushed through an Islamist-drafted constitution, Egypt has been deeply divided between Mursi’s Islamist supporters and a wide-ranging opposition that accuses the president of betraying the uprising that brought him to office and consolidating power in the hands of his Muslim Brotherhood.
Outside the Mugamma, the protesters threatened to extend their protest, adding that the next step could be to close down the television building which also houses the information ministry.
In the northern city of Kafr El-Sheikh, hundreds of quarry workers stormed the governorate headquarters to protest against working conditions and forced employees out of the building, chanting against governor Saad Al-Husseini, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood.
A crippling economic crisis has also fueled the anger.
Bakeries across Egypt have threatened to go on strike on Thursday due to rising wheat prices, a potentially devastating move in a country where many rely on subsidized bread as the main food staple.
Thousands are employed at the Mugamma, which houses passport offices, tax offices and various other government agencies.
“A small group of young people closed the main doors of the building and they are not letting anyone in,” one employee told AFP from inside the building.
The protesters “did not enter the building,” the employee said.
“They have left a door open and said employees who finish their shift must leave and that they won’t let anyone in,” a witness said.
The Mugamma has been closed before, most recently during protests marking two years since the ouster of president Hosni Mubarak in a popular uprising.
A general strike in the canal city of Port Said, meanwhile, entered its second week on Sunday, with most shops and factories closed down.


New Palestinian deaths bring toll from Israel clashes to 40

Updated 26 min 56 sec ago
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New Palestinian deaths bring toll from Israel clashes to 40

GAZA CITY: Two Palestinians wounded in clashes with Israel were pronounced dead Monday, a Gaza official said, bringing the toll from Israeli fire since March 30 to 40.
A spokesman for the Hamas-controlled territory’s health ministry named the latest fatalities as Tahrir Wahba, 18, and Abdullah Shamali, 20.
Wahba, who was deaf, was shot in the head in a clash east of Khan Yunis on April 6, and Shamali died of “bullet wounds to his belly” sustained on Friday, said spokesman Ashraf Al-Qudra.
Most of the 40 Palestinians killed by Israel since the start of “March of Return” protests on March 30 were shot by snipers on the border, while a few others were killed by Israeli artillery or air strikes.
Tens of thousands of Palestinians in the coastal enclave, wedged between Israel, Egypt and the Mediterranean, have gathered at the border on consecutive Fridays to call for Palestinian refugees to be allowed to return to their former homes now inside Israel.
Some protesters have launched stones or burning tires at Israeli soldiers.
Israeli forces have responded with live ammunition, wounding hundreds in addition to those killed.
The Israeli army says its troops only opened fire in self-defense or to stop protesters attempting to breach the barrier separating the territory from Israel.
More than 440 demonstrators suffered bullet wounds or gas inhalation on Friday, rescuers said.
Israel has drawn harsh criticism from rights groups along with calls for investigations by the United Nations or the European Union.
Israel has for more than a decade imposed a crippling blockade on Gaza, fighting three wars with Hamas since 2008.
Also on Monday, Hamas’s military wing said one of its men died in an explosion.
It said in a statement that Mohammed Al-Maqadma, 55, was killed by an “explosive projectile” fired by an unnamed group which it described as hostile to Hamas.
It did not elaborate further.
The Gaza health ministry said a child was wounded in the same blast, in the northern part of the strip.