Egyptian police arrest protesters decrying possible succession of Mubarak's son

CAIRO (AP) — Egyptian police on Tuesday beat and arrested anti-government activists demonstrating against the possibility of the president's son succeeding his father as leader of the country.

Some 300 protesters chanted anti-government slogans, waved flags and even burned pictures of the president's son as hundreds of black clad riot police surrounded them in tight cordons opposite the former royal palace in downtown Cairo.

Many others were prevented from even reaching the wide square by police.

Shoving matches broke out between protesters and security forces and some activists were detained in nearby police vans. At least one woman was grabbed and beaten by female police officers.

Police also confiscated videotapes from BBC and Al-Jazeera cameramen at the protest, according to the station reporters.

A security official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not allowed to speak to the press, said 60 activists were detained and kept in police vans during the protests.

Representatives from one youth movement also said at least 30 of its members were arrested just trying to reach the site of the demonstration.

A companion demonstration also took place in Egypt's second city of Alexandria on the Mediterranean Sea where 25 people were detained, another security official said.

The rallies were protesting widely rumored plans for 82-year-old President Hosni Mubarak to be succeeded by his son Gamal, 46, who is currently a high-ranking member of the ruling party.

The protests come about two months before parliamentary elections and a year before presidential elections. Mubarak has not yet announced if he will run for another term and extend his nearly 30-year reign.

Analysts say under recent constitutional amendments, it is only possible for Gamal Mubarak or an ruling-party candidate to meet the conditions to run in presidential elections.

Egypt's first multi-candidate elections were held in 2005, and Mubarak won more than 88 percent of the vote. Father and son deny any such succession plans exist.

Uncertainty over who will rule Egypt were fanned by reports about Mubarak's health after he recent had surgery in Germany to remove his gall bladder and a growth in the small intestine.

"Enough of you and Jimmy!" protesters chanted, using a common nickname for Gamal.

"No inheritance after today, no freedom without blood," chanted protesters wearing matching "no inheritance after today" T-shirts. "We are not slaves or property. God created us free people."

The protests in Cairo included representatives from most of Egypt's legal political parties as well as activists from the Kifaya movement, which made its name in 2004 for being the first to publicly protest Gamal Mubarak's possible succession.

The specter of a father-son succession is one of the few issues that galvanizes Egypt's fragmented opposition, particularly after posters of Mubarak's son popped up all over Egypt, paid for by a group who said they support him for president.

The protests were organized to coincide with the anniversary of the death of Ahmed Orabi, an Egyptian army general who had led a popular revolt against British dominance of Egypt in 1879.

"Most parties are here because we have reached a dead end, there is no other method or way that will work except civil disobedience or popular revolt, anything else is nonsense," said Ahmed el-Kordi, 23, who attended the rally.

Sanaa Seif, 16, who was wearing a T-shirt with Gamal Mubarak's face painted above two crossed bones, said she found out about the protest from the social networking site Facebook.

"This is my country. I am annoyed that Gamal Mubarak would be just imposed on us," she said.

Protesters also burned posters of Gamal Mubarak emblazoned with the slogan, "you won't rule us."

Conspicuously absent were members of the Muslim Brotherhood, the country's largest opposition movement, with nearly a fifth of the seats in the outgoing parliament. Hundreds of members of the Islamist group languish in jail after periodic government crackdowns.

(This version CORRECTS the burned pictures were those of the president's son)