Egypt police battle young who say they want to vote

Egypt police battle young who say they want to vote

Egyptian riot police fought running battles in an Alexandria slum on Saturday with young men who said that security forces prevented opposition supporters from voting in parliamentary elections.

Some of the men said they waited to vote since the morning but lines of riot police prevented them from reaching the polling stations in the area, where a Muslim Brotherhood candidate is competing with a politician from the ruling party.

Tempers snapped when polling stations closed and clashes broke out at about sunset between about 800 youngsters and 1,000 policemen.

Youths threw stones at the police, who threw rocks back and fired tear gas canisters, some of them down narrow and densely populated alleyways in the Dekheila shanties.

Police deployed down the alleys, banged on doors and told people not to leave their houses. Young men, damp cloths wrapped across their mouths to protect themselves from the gas, dodged the police and harassed them.

One of the young men, Mustafa Rizk, said: “We hate the government. We all hate the government. They treat us like animals. It’s not Islamic the way they treat people. This is why we all want an Islamic government.”

“This is the response of the government to people wanting to exercise their right to vote,” added Walid, a carpenter.

Ahmed, a 19-year-old student who declined to give his second name, said: “I went to vote twice and they didn’t let me. They are teargassing us just because we want to vote.”

“The police are like the Israelis and we are like the Palestinians. We are oppressed,” said another youth, who declined to give his name.

Witnesses said police restricted voting in many areas where the Muslim Brotherhood is fielding candidates. An Interior Ministry spokesman said police were ensuring orderly voting.

A police officer, asked why people could not vote, said: “I don’t know. I really don’t know.”