Masses of Egyptian protesters clash with police outside presidential palace

Masses of Egyptian protesters clash with police outside presidential palace | The Times of Israel.

( These protests will be ignored and marginalized.  Until there are 100s of thousands or violent resistance, the totalitarian rule of the moslem brotherhood will get stronger. WARNING to the democratic activists in Egypt:  Win SOON or be ready to die. – JW (

Tens of thousands take to the streets in Cairo and Alexandria to protest Morsi’s power grab

December 4, 2012, 7:15 pm 1
Thousands of protesters congregate in Cairo near the presidential palace on Tuesday. (photo credit: image capture from ONTV)

Thousands of protesters congregate in Cairo near the presidential palace on Tuesday. (photo credit: image capture from ONTV)

Tens of thousands of Egyptians marched on the presidential palace on Tuesday to protest the assumption by the nation’s Islamist president of nearly unrestricted powers and a draft constitution hurriedly adopted by his allies.

Police fired tear gas at protesters who attempted to get past the barbed wire-topped barricade cordoning off Mohammed Morsi’s presidential palace, but the protesters broke through nonetheless. With that barricade bypassed, protesters moved closer to the palace’s walls, with police apparently choosing not to try and push the crowds back.

Demonstrators clanged incessantly on lampposts, waved Egyptian flags and held aloft images of Morsi clad in a turban and Nazi uniform with the word “void” written in Arabic underneath. Protesters also commandeered a police van, climbing atop the armored vehicle to wave Egypt’s red, white and black flag.

Shortly after the clashes began, Morsi reportedly left the presidential palace, according to Reuters. He left for home through a back door when the crowds “grew bigger,” according to a presidential official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

The boulevard near the presidential palace where protesters massed was inundated by a seething horde of Cairenes, with numbers estimated in the tens of thousands in that one location alone. Thousands more congregated in Tahrir Square.

Egyptian riot police stand guard behind barbed wire while protesters chant anti Muslim Brotherhood slogans, not pictured, during a demonstration in front of the presidential palace, in Cairo, Egypt, Tuesday, Dec. 4 (photo credit: AP/Nasser Nasser)

The march came amid rising anger over the draft charter and decrees issued by Morsi giving himself sweeping powers. Morsi called for a nationwide referendum on the draft constitution on December 15.

In the coastal city of Alexandria, some 10,000 opponents of Morsi gathered in the center of the country’s second-largest metropolis. They chanted slogans against the Egyptian leader and his Muslim Brotherhood party.

It is Egypt’s worst political crisis since the ouster nearly two years ago of authoritarian president Hosni Mubarak. The country has been divided into two camps: Morsi and his fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood, as well as ultraconservative Salafi Islamists, versus youth groups, liberal parties and large sectors of the public.

“Freedom or we die,” chanted a crowd of several hundred outside a mosque in the Abbasiyah district. “Mohammed Morsi! Illegitimate! Brotherhood! Illegitimate!” they also yelled.

“This is the last warning before we lay siege to the presidential palace,” said Mahmoud Hashim, a 21-year-old student from the city of Suez on the Red Sea. “We want the presidential decrees canceled.”

Several hundred protesters also gathered outside Morsi’s residence in an upscale suburb not far from the Itihadiya. “Down with the sons of dogs. We are the power and we are the people,” they chanted.

Morsi, who narrowly won the presidency in a June election, appeared to be in no mood for compromise.

A statement by his office said the Egyptian leader met on Tuesday with his deputy, prime minister and several top cabinet members to discuss preparations for the referendum. The statement appeared also to suggest that it was business as usual at the presidential palace despite the rally.

The large turnout signaled sustained momentum for the opposition, which brought out at least 200,000 protesters to Cairo’s Tahrir Square a week ago and a comparable number on Friday, demanding that Morsi’s decrees be rescinded. Hundreds of protesters also have camped out in Tahrir, birthplace of last year’s uprising, for close to two weeks.

The Islamists responded by sending hundreds of thousands of supporters into Cairo’s twin city of Giza on Saturday and across much of the country. Thousands also imposed a siege on Egypt’s highest court, the Supreme Constitutional Court.

The opposition has yet to say whether it intends to focus its energy on rallying support for a boycott of the December 15 vote or defeating the draft with a “no” vote.

“We haven’t made any decisions yet, but I’m leaning against a boycott and toward voting ‘no,’” said Hossam al-Hamalawy of the Socialist Revolutionaries, a key group behind last year’s uprising. “We want a [new] constituent assembly that represents the people and we keep up the pressure on Morsi.”

The strikes were part of a planned campaign of civil disobedience that could bring in other industries.

On Tuesday, at least eight influential dailies, a mix of opposition party mouthpieces and independent publications, suspended publication for a day to protest against what many journalists see as the restrictions on freedom of expression in the draft constitution.

The country’s privately owned TV networks planned their own protest Wednesday, when they will blacken their screens all day.

Morsi’s November 22 decrees placed him above oversight of any kind, including the courts. The constitutional panel then rushed through a draft constitution without the participation of representatives of liberals and Christians. Only four women, all Islamists, attended the marathon, all-night session.

The charter has been criticized for not protecting the rights of women and minority groups, and many journalists see it as restricting freedom of expression. Critics also say it empowers Islamic religious clerics by giving them a say over legislation, while some articles were seen as tailored to get rid of Islamists’ enemies.

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