CAIRO — Egyptian security forces used tear gas and water cannons Thursday to disperse students and supporters of the country’s ousted Islamist president as they rallied outside a Cairo university, sparking clashes that killed one person. Meanwhile, the country’s top security chief vowed to “confront with all decisiveness” those violating a new law criminalizing protests not prior approved by police.
Supporters of toppled President Mohammed Morsi protested at Cairo University over a harsh court verdict Wednesday against a group of young female protesters. The demonstrators later left the university’s campus and marched down a major street, sparking a confrontation with police.
At least one student was killed in the clashes, said a security official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to journalists. Eight were injured by either tear gas inhalation or during clashes with security forces, Health Ministry official Khaled el-Khatib said.
The protests came in defiance of a new law criminalizing protests held without police permits. Violators face fines and prison terms.
Egypt has been gripped by near-daily demonstrations since a popularly backed military coup ousted Morsi on July. 3. On Thursday, Interior Minister Gen. Mohammed Ibrahim said security forces will “confront any violation and will face with all decisiveness any attempt to cut roads, block public facilities, hinder citizens’ movement or obstruct their interests.”
The new protest law sparked a wave of anger among liberals and youth groups, as well as allies of the military-backed interim government. Police arrested dozens of activists after breaking up their protests Tuesday in their first use of the new law.
On Thursday, 24 activists arrested during Tuesday’s protests chanted “down with military rule” as they appeared in court. They said they planned to go on hunger strike until the government cancels the law. A judge ordered them held 15 more days.
Meanwhile, a security official said Muslim residents from a village called al-Hawarta in Minya province fought with Christians from a neighboring village over a home being built by Christians between their two villages. The official said one Christian and two Muslims were killed, as Muslims also set fire to Christian homes.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to speak to journalists.
Christians compose nearly 10 percent of Egypt’s population and have suffered decades of discrimination under successive governments.