Cairo, Egypt -- Hundreds of youths clashed with Egyptian police in Tahrir Square on Friday in a violent start to the second anniversary of the uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak and led to the election of an Islamist president who is now the focus of protester rage.
By prayer time, thousands of opponents of President Mohamed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood allies had gathered in Tahrir Square at the start of a mass protest expected to revive the demands of a revolution that they say has been betrayed by the Islamists.
The square was calm by daybreak, following early morning battles between police and protesters who threw petrol bombs and firecrackers as they tried to approach a wall blocking access to government buildings near the square.
Plumes of teargas fired by the police filled the air and a steady stream of ambulances shuttled injured protesters away from the square.
The Health Ministry said 16 people had been wounded in clashes between young protesters who threw stones over a wall blocking where police were guarding government buildings including the parliament.
The anniversary will once again showcase the divide between the Islamists and their secular opponents. The Brotherhood has decided against mobilizing in the street for the occasion, a decision that could reduce the likelihood of confrontation.
Six months into office, Morsi is being held responsible for political divisions as well as an economic crisis caused by two years of turmoil.
Other sources of friction abound. Activists are impatient for justice for the victims of political violence perpetrated over the last two years. Little has been done to reform brutal Mubarak-era security agencies. A spate of transport disasters on roads and railways neglected for years is feeding discontent.
The parties that have called for Friday's protest list demands including a complete overhaul of the Islamist-tinged constitution that was fast-tracked.