Residents near Egypt's presidential palace suffer in recent protests   2013-02-13 22:01:41            

by Marwa Yahia

CAIRO, Feb. 13 (Xinhua) -- "Our daily life has been changed after the constitutional declaration issued last November," said Haddir Mahmoud, a 33-year-old teacher living close to the presidential palace in the upscale neighborhood of Heliopolis, northeast of Egypt's capital Cairo.

"Living in the once most secured and high-style place in Egypt, we had been envied by friends," Haddir said.

Designed by Belgian architect Ernest Jaspar, the palace, named Ittihadiya in Arabic, was inaugurated in December 1908 as a tourist hotel. In the 1980s, it became the headquarters of ex- President Hosni Mubarak.

However, everything changed as protesters had taken the area surrounding the palace as a rostrum to urge the administration of President Mohamed Morsi to heed their demands since November 2012, after the new president from the Muslim Brotherhood issued a constitutional declaration which would shielded him from judicial review.

The controversial constitutional declaration triggered fresh tensions among political parties and violence in the streets, leaving several people killed and hundreds others injured, as well as an even more chaotic political scene two years after what many Egyptians proudly call the "revolution."

In the past few months, it has turned a common scene that anti- government protesters went beyond peaceful demonstrations and sit- ins, attempting to breaking into the palace and demanding Morsi's ouster.

On Monday, those marking the second anniversary of the fall of ex-leader Hosni Mubarak hurled rocks and fire balls at the security forces outside the presidential palace, who responded with tearsgas and water cannons.

Lilah kamal, 63, cried loudly at the Heliopolis police station on that day after she was robbed in Roqsy district, 200 meters from the presidential palace. "I never felt horrified like in the days of recent protests, I gave the thief my jewelry and money begging him not to kill me."

Mohamed Abdel Moniem, a professor of English literature at American University in Cairo, moved his family to another district after his son was severely wounded when thugs robbed his car on the day of the second anniversary of the Egyptian unrest in January.

Last week, protesters besieged the palace and tried to climb walls, throwing Molotov cocktails inside the building during the Friday protest dubbed "Dignity or Leave."

Imam Khatib, said his restaurant in Al Orouba street was closed for three weeks for maintenance, after clashes between protesters and policemen damaged its front walls.

Khatib stared sadly at the once-beautiful palace which was shielded by barbed wire and bore the traces of petrol bomb attacks.

Editor: Lu Hui
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