x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 July 2017

Anti-Morsi protesters in Egypt demonstrate with funerals

Thousands of mourners chanting for the downfall of Egypt's president march in funerals again in Port Said as the latest political crisis drags on.

PORT SAID, Egypt //Thousands of mourners chanting for the downfall of Egypt's president marched in funerals again yesterday in Port Said as the latest political crisis drags on.

Troops in Port Said and Suez, two riot-torn cities along the strategic Suez Canal, stood by and watched Monday night as thousands took to the streets.

They were marching in direct defiance of a night curfew and a state of emergency declared by the president, Mohammed Morsi, a day earlier.

Residents of the two cities and Ismailia, a third city also under the emergency, marched just as the curfew came into force at 9pm.

The display of contempt for Mr Morsi's decision was tantamount to an outright rebellion that many worried could spread to other parts of the country.

Already, protesters across much of Egypt are battling police, cutting off roads and railway lines, and besieging government offices and police stations as part of a growing revolt against Mr Morsi and his Islamist group, the Muslim Brotherhood.

At least 60 people have been killed since Friday.

Mr Morsi's opponents accuse Islamists of monopolising power and failing to live up to the ideals of the pro-democracy uprising that ousted authoritarian leader Hosni Mubarak two years ago.

In Cairo, intense fighting for days around central Tahrir Square engulfed two landmark hotels and forced the US embassy to suspend public services yesterday.

The lobby of the five-star Semiramis along the Nile was trashed after clashes on the street outside spilt into the hotel, when armed masked men attempted to rob it.

In Port Said, where most of the deadly violence has been centred, tanks were fanned out on the streets of the city of some 600,000.

Protesters held funerals for six more of those killed in clashes, with thousands marching and chanting against Mr Morsi. Similar scenes have replayed over the past few days.

"Erhal! Erhal!" or "Leave, leave!" they screamed, reviving the iconic chant of the 2011 uprising that is now turned against Morsi.

The wave of unrest has touched cities across much of Egypt since Thursday, including Cairo, the three Suez Canal cities, Alexandria on the Mediterranean in the north and a string of cities in the Nile Delta.

The violence accelerated Friday, the second anniversary of the uprising, with protests to mark the event turning to clashes that left 11 dead, most of them in Suez.

The next day, riots exploded in Port Said after a court convicted and sentenced to death 21 defendants - mostly locals - for a mass football riot in the city's main stadium a year ago.

Rioters attacked police stations, clashed with security forces in the streets, and shots and tear gas were fired at protester funerals in mayhem that left 44 people dead over the weekend.