Tough call here, even if the bulk of the protesters want a more democratic system, there is absolutely no question whatsoever the Muslim Brotherhood would assume power in the unlikely event the Mubarak regime is overthrown.

(BBC)–¬†Police in Cairo have been using tear gas and water cannon to try to quell rare anti-government protests.

Thousands have joined the protests after an internet campaign inspired by the uprising in Tunisia.

They marched through Cairo and other areas chanting anti-government slogans, after activists called for a “day of revolt” in a web message.

Weeks of unrest in Tunisia eventually toppled President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali earlier this month.

Protests are uncommon in Egypt, which President Hosni Mubarak has ruled since 1981, tolerating little dissent.

The events in Cairo were co-ordinated on a Facebook page Рtens of thousands of supporters clicked on the page to say they would take part.

Reports said the social networking site Twitter had been blocked in Egypt and that mobile phone networks in the Cairo area were down.

The BBC’s Jon Leyne in Cairo said rallies had been held in several parts of the capital, and the turnout had been more than the organisers could have hoped.

Police were taken aback by the anger of the crowd and let protesters make their way to the parliament building, he says.

There police regrouped in full riot gear with tear gas and water cannon and temporarily drove the crowd back. However, protesters threw stones and stood their ground, pushing the police back until they were on the run.

Our correspondent says there was a lot of of blood but no sound of gunfire. The scale of the clashes will surely come as a shock to President Mubarak, he adds.

Protests also broke out in other areas, including the eastern city of Ismailiya and the northern port city of Alexandria.

HT: D. Austin