Thousands of people, many of them students, took to the streets in the Suez Canal city of Port Said on Friday night to protest against rising food prices, with authorities making little effort to prevent any outbreaks of violence.
According to witnesses, the rallies were peaceful until they reached the city’s university, when security forces became deployed — raising fears that protesters might be forced to respond in kind. Early on Saturday, at least one person was reportedly killed in violent clashes with police.
Other protests were reported in the Nile Delta city of Zagazig, northern town of Mansoura, as well as the capital, Khartoum. All those towns are located near the Mediterranean coast, suggesting that Friday’s demonstrations were at least in part linked to previous protests against new taxes imposed by President Omar al-Bashir’s government in recent weeks.
Friday’s protests reflected a broader mood across the country, with many people among the long-persecuted’s under Islamist rule, believing that freedom is being slowly rolled back. After decades of suppression by military dictatorship, Arab Spring-style unrest has found fertile ground in this largely poor, conservative country.
Amid Friday’s demonstrations, the pro-government al-Watan newspaper published an article calling on the police and army to take actions “similar to what happened to what happened on the plains of Khartoum more than three months ago” in reference to the pitched battle with pro-government forces which led to the resignation of Prime Minister Hani Hussein and played into the country’s political woes.
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