Egyptian activists urged protestors to take to the streets for a second day of anti-government rallies.
Wednesday’s protests come a day after three activists and one policeman were killed and more than 100 security personnel injured in anti-government rallies across the country.
The rallies were largely organized using social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, according to reports. They were inspired by the popular uprising in nearby Tunisia, which led to the resignation of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who then fled the country.
Tuesday’s demonstrations in several Egyptian cities, including the capital Cairo, called for the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak, who has been in power for the last 30 years.
Among the protestors’ demands are an end to a long-standing state of emergency, a rise in minimum wages and the resignation of the interior minister. They expressed anger at the rising cost of living and the government’s failed economic policies, as well as government corruption.
While the Egyptian Interior Ministry said Tuesday that its security forces were only on hand to secure the demonstrations and not confront the protestors, it later blamed members of the Muslim Brotherhood for the rioting, the damaging of public property and assaults on police. On Wednesday it banned further demonstrations.
Mubarak has been a reliable ally of the United States since assuming the presidency three decades ago.
“The Egyptian government has an important opportunity to be responsive to the aspirations of the Egyptian people, and pursue political, economic and social reforms that can improve their lives and help Egypt prosper,” the White House said Tuesday in a statement.
In the days leading up to the protests, more than 90,000 people indicated that they would participate by signing up on a Facebook page for the “Day of Revolution,” the New York Times reported.
Mubarak, then Egypt’s vice-president, became president in 1981, following the assassination by Islamists of President Anwar Sadat.