Egyptians take anti-Morsi protests to presidential palace
Tens of thousands of protesters massed outside the presidential palace and in Tahrir Square in Cairo on Tuesday, as Egyptians voiced their opposition to President Mohammed Morsi for a 12th straight day.
The deepening political crisis has pitted Morsi, the country's first democratically elected president, and his Islamist backers against a broad alliance of young liberals, judges, human rights groups and loyalists of the former government.
Morsi ignited a wave of protest Nov. 22 when he granted himself far-reaching powers to legislate without judicial oversight, a move that his opponents say amounted to a dictatorial power grab.
Protests rarely approach the presidential palace, and opposition members billed Tuesday's demonstration as an "important step" in escalating pressure on the president to rescind his decree.
Thousands pressed against the palace gates amid thunderous chants of "We won't leave! He should leave!" Some climbed atop the military vehicles that ringed the complex and spray-painted anti-Islamist slogans on the walls.
Protesters clashed sporadically with security forces using tear gas outside the palace and near Tahrir Square on Tuesday night. Witnesses said some of the riot police appeared to join the crowd, underscoring what they said was opposition to Morsi within his security services.
Morsi did not comment on the unrest but left the presidential compound during the protest, the Reuters news agency reported. The Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, which often serves as Morsi's mouthpiece, said on the group's website that perpetrators of violence or vandalism in the day's protest would be held accountable.
The Islamists and their opponents have described Egypt's deepening crisis, which centers on a draft of the new constitution, as a battle for the country's soul and the success of its faltering transition to democracy.
Morsi set a date of Dec. 15 for a national referendum on the draft after the Islamist-dominated assembly tasked with writing it rushed to approve it last week, deepening the political rift over his decree and leaving the opposition divided over what to do if the referendum is carried out.
On Tuesday, protesters said they saw the escalation outside the palace as essential if they were to force Morsi to back down from the decree, as well as from the constitutional draft that they deem illegitimate.
Opposition to the decree by senior justice officials had threatened to undermine the administration's ability to hold a referendum on the document. On Monday, however, the Supreme Judicial Council agreed to oversee the process, clearing the way for the Dec. 15 vote and creating the possibility of legal credibility for the results.
Even as protesters kept up their demands and a handful of independent news organizations began a symbolic media blackout to show their objection to the draft, opposition leaders remained divided Tuesday on whether to boycott the referendum or simply vote no.
"We cannot grant any legitimacy to a wholly illegitimate process," said Shadi al-Ghazali Harb, a prominent youth activist and a member of the liberal Constitution Party, who was protesting in Tahrir Square on Tuesday night. But Harb said that if the judiciary agreed to supervise the vote, the opposition's stance could change.
Morsi's supporters have defended the decree as a necessary step toward democracy, saying it shielded the constitution-writing assembly from dissolution by a judiciary still stacked with holdovers from the government of Hosni Mubarak.
But his opponents say the move threatens to return Egypt to authoritarian rule less than two years after a popular uprising ended Mubarak's 30-year reign.
"Today's march is a very important step," said Mustafa el-Soweisy, a university student from Suez who joined the crowd outside the presidential palace. Soweisy and other opposition members vowed wider action if the standoff continued.
"If Morsi continues with his obstinacy, there will be another course — a course of escalation, of civil disobedience and strikes," he said.
Ingy Hassieb contributed to this report.
Emergency call 'started off dumb, but got pretty serious'
Britain First criticised for using actress's memory to draw attention to their 'hate-filled home page'
Thought you'd seen it all after the Jeremy Paxman interview?
Greatest mystery about the hit BBC1 show is how it continues to be made at all, writes Grace Dent
"History is violent," says the US Army tank commander Don "Wardaddy" Collier
Animal welfare charities have urged the boy band to cut the scenes
Argentinian scored 'rabona' wonder goal for Tottenham in Europa League – see it here
- 1 This 'woman calls police to order pizza' story isn't going where you're expecting
- 2 Watch what happened when food critics were unknowingly served McDonald's
- 3 Jimmy Carr's controversial Oscar Pistorius joke goes a bit too far at the Q Awards
- 4 Ottawa shootings: Bruce MacKinnon's cartoon is the perfect tribute to soldier Nathan Cirillo
- 5 Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Isis releases first video showing the stoning of woman accused of committing adultery as her father shouts 'don't call me Dad'
This 'woman calls police to order pizza' story isn't going where you're expecting
FCKH8: YouTube reinstates provocative anti-sexism video showing young girls swearing
Diwali: What is the festival of lights – and how is it celebrated around the world?
Jimmy Carr's controversial Oscar Pistorius joke goes a bit too far at the Q Awards
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Thousands with degenerative conditions classified as 'fit to work in future' – despite no possibility of improvement
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Attacks on 'Ukip Calypso' show how skewed people’s priorities are
£350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Reading are...
Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: A VERY HIGH QUALITY FIRM - A high q...
competitive + bonus + benefits: Sauce Recruitment: Are you the king or Queen o...
£10 per hour: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you an experienced note taker...