Egyptian police arrest protesters as calm returns in Cairo


Egyptian police arrested protesters in Cairo on Saturday after days of anti-U.S. demonstrations over a film denigrating the Prophet Mohammed.

Traffic in Tahrir Square was beginning to get back to normal as police made the arrests. Streets were strewn with debris, a reminder of the days of skirmishes.

The demonstrations at the square — which in 2011 was the hub of activity in the revolution that led to the ouster of longtime President Hosni Mubarak — started Tuesday. The protests , fueled by outrage over an anti-Islam film made in the United States and posted online, were mostly peaceful.

But there was at least one death and scores have been arrested, according to authorities.

As of Saturday, 142 protesters were detained and 99 police officers injured, the Interior Ministry said.

At least 15 protesters were injured Friday from tear gas inhalation and eye irritation, said Health Ministry spokesman Mohamed Sultan.

In recent days, nations in North Africa have taken to the streets to protest the film.

The region is on edge after the killings of U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and three other American officials at the U.S. Consulate in the Libyan city of Benghazi.

Ties between the United States and Egypt have cooled since the overthrow last year of Mubarak and the election of President Mohamed Morsy, the country’s first democratically elected leader. Before he became president, he was a leader in the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, the popular Islamist movement.

Some of the protests occurred near the American Embassy, which is close to Tahrir Square.

When the protests began Tuesday, police and Egyptian troops formed defensive lines around the embassy to prevent demonstrators from advancing, but not before the protesters had scaled the embassy fence and placed a black flag atop a ladder in the American compound.

Police arrested a handful of protesters at the time, but the failure of Egyptian authorities to take action sooner has been widely questioned, as has the initial response from Morsy.

Morsy initially focused his criticism on the anti-Muslim film as an unacceptable slap at Islam.

But after speaking with President Barack Obama, Morsy on Thursday directly criticized the violence.

“Those who are attacking the embassies do not represent any of us,” he said from Brussels, Belgium, where he was visiting the headquarters of the European Union.