CAIRO — Hundreds of Egyptian demonstrators calling for economic and political reforms broke through police barriers on Tuesday and began marching in Cairo's streets, in a protest inspired by Tunisia's uprising.
Protesters gathered outside the Supreme Court in downtown Cairo and held large signs that read "Tunisia is the solution" amid massive police deployment, an AFP correspondent said.
Chanting "Down with Mubarak" --in reference to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak who has been in power for three decades-- they broke through several police cordons and began marching towards Tahrir Square, in scenes seldom witnessed in Egypt.
Others shouted "Tunisia is not better than Egypt" as the crowds began to swell.
A security official told AFP that at least 20,000 to 30,000 police had been mobilised in the centre of the capital alone, and that the area housing the interior ministry had been sealed off.
The call was first launched by pro-democracy youth group the April 6 movement, to coincide with a national holiday to celebrate Police Day.
Among demands are the ouster of Interior Minster Habib al-Adly, whose police and security forces have been accused of heavy-handedness; the removal of the decades-old emergency law and a rise in minimum wages.
In December, the self-immolation of 26-year-old Tunisian street vendor Mohammed Bouazizi unleashed a wave of street riots across the North African country that culminated in the dramatic ouster of strongman Zine El Abidine Ben Ali after 23 years in power.
Bouazizi's attempt to draw attention to economic hardship and repression sparked a series of copycat public torchings in Egypt, Algeria, Mauritania, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and Sudan.
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