Egypt’s main tourist areas are reported to remain unaffected, following a day of anti-government protests that echoed the recent civil uprising in Tunisia.
Some 20,000 demonstrators turned out in city centres across the country on Tuesday to demand that President Hosni Mubarak, who has been in power since 1981, step down.
Authorities have said it would ban demonstrations following a “Day of Wrath” which led to the death of three protestors in Suez and one policeman in Cairo, who was hit on the head by a rock.
Public gatherings, protests and marches are all now prohibited, the country’s official news agency Al-Masry al-Youm has reported. Whilst anyone joining in unauthorised action will be detained and prosecuted, according to the interior ministry.
Police fired teargas and water cannon in the early hours of Wednesday to disperse protesters in Cairo’s central Tahrir Square. However police have restored order by deployed large numbers around the square.
Demonstrators are protesting against poverty, unemployment, corruption and repression and inspired by the recent overthrowing of the president of Tunisia.
Egypt’s population of 80 million is growing by 2 percent a year. About 60 percent of the population - and 90 percent of the unemployed - are under 30 years old.
Protests are uncommon in Egypt, which has been ruled by President Hosni Mubarak since 1981.
In Washington, the White House urged the 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.
The protests were planned against a backdrop of growing anger in Egypt over poverty and a deteriorating economy.
Though similarities are being drawn with the recent uprising in Tunisia, so far the percentage of people involved is much lower.