Egypt Bans Anti-government Protests

Public gatherings, protests and marches are all now prohibited, the country’s official news agency reports.
Anyone joining in unauthorised action will be detained and prosecuted, the interior ministry said.
Three people died during the nationwide web-inspired protests, which were broken up with tear gas overnight.Police also used water cannon as they forced protesters from Tahrir Square, a symbolic city centre location in the heart of Cairo.

Protesters had been inspired by the recent uprising in Tunisia, vowing to stay until the government fell.The BBC’s Jon Leyne reported that some protesters began gathering again early on Wednesday.He said there were few signs of a heavy police presence.
Protests are uncommon in Egypt, which President Hosni Mubarak has ruled since 1981, tolerating little dissent.In Washington, the White House urged the Egyptian government to allow protests to go ahead, describing the situation as “an important opportunity” for the nation.
France’s foreign minister said she regretted the loss of life in Egypt but said democracy should be encouraged in all countries around the world.Tuesday’s event had been co-ordinated on a Facebook page, where the organisers said they were taking a stand against torture, poverty, corruption and unemployment.

They said that the rally would mark “the beginning of the end”.Our correspondent said that it had been unclear how many people would respond to the online call, but in the end, the turnout was more than the organisers could have hoped.
A poster of Hosni Mubarak was defaced by protesters in Alexandria

Police were taken aback by the anger of the crowd and let protesters make their way to Tahrir Square near the parliament building, he says.Opposition organisers urged a repeat demonstration on Wednesday, the AFP news agency reported.
Microblogging site Twitter also played a key part, with supporters inside and outside Egypt using the search term#jan25 to post news of the day.However, Twitter confirmed later on Tuesday that it had been blocked inside Egypt from 1600 GMT, meaning many were unable to post updates from the scene.

“We believe that the open exchange of information and views benefits societies and helps governments connect with their people,” Twitter said on its official account.

The crowd’s anger was largely focused on the president on Tuesday, with thousands calling for his resignation and “Down with Mubarak” scrawled on the walls of buildings.But at 0100 local time (2300 GMT Tuesday) police moved in, firing tear gas and driving protesters into nearby streets. There were reports that some people had been beaten by police.
“It got broken up ugly with everything, shooting, water cannon and [police] running with the sticks,” one of the last protesters to leave, Gigi Ibrahim, told the Associated Press.State TV said one policeman had died in clashes.
Protests were also held out in other areas of the country on Tuesday, including the eastern city of Ismailiya.