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Egypt's crackdown on protesters evokes Iran's heavy hand in 2009 unrest

With more than 100 estimated dead so far as Egyptian protests resume for a fifth day, Egypt's 'zero tolerance' policy is reminiscent of Iran's force to quash unrest after Ahmadinejad's reelection.

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Protesters shout anti-goverment slogans during a demonstration in Cairo, Saturday. Thousands of angry Egyptians rallied in central Cairo to demand that President Hosni Mubarak resign and call on troops to come over to their side despite Mubarak's use of tactics reminiscent of Iran's in 2009.

Asmaa Waguih/Reuters

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Egyptians say their growing protest against the 30-year-rule of President Hosni Mubarak was sparked by the Tunisia uprising that toppled another veteran authoritarian leader two weeks ago.

But while ordinary Egyptians have been inspired by the ouster of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, the forceful response of Mr. Mubarak’s regime more resembles how Iran successfully – if mercilessly – dealt with widespread protests in 2009 after the disputed reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Anyone who followed Iran's violent crackdown then may feel a twinge of déjà vu as they watch rows of Egyptian riot police and plainclothes security agents battle Egyptians with batons, tear gas, and water cannons in their bid to halt five days of unprecedented protest.

By midday Saturday, as protesters returned to the street again to push for an end to Mr. Mubarak’s rule, the nationwide death toll from the protest was high and rising. Correspondents for Al Jazeera English visited hospitals in several cities and counted 108 dead, with a Western human rights monitor confirming that some were killed by live ammunition; earlier Reuters put the death toll at 74.

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