Fears of political meltdown as thousands mass against Morsi

 

Cairo

Nearly two years after it became the insurrectionary hub which forced the downfall of a dictator, Tahrir Square was again transformed into an arena of political agitation yesterday – but this time it was against the Muslim Brotherhood and its elected president, Mohamed Morsi.

With fears mounting that the deeply divided country is on the verge of another political meltdown, tens of thousands of protesters marched on downtown Cairo to challenge the recent decree issued by Mr Morsi which grants him near limitless powers.

Last night ambulances lined side-streets around Tahrir Square in anticipation of an outbreak of violence.

Following a week in which three people have died and more than 400 have been injured during nationwide rioting, one paramedic told The Independent that hospital staff across the capital had been drafted in to work overtime.

Sporadic clashes broke out yesterday morning between protesters and security forces near the American embassy. Fighting continued through the day, and a 54-year-old man later died after inhaling tear gas.

By the afternoon, thousands of protesters had begun to file into Tahrir Square, many of them chanting for the downfall of the nizaam, or regime – the slogan of Egypt's uprising which was screamed to devastating effect against Mr Morsi's predecessor. Thousands more demonstrated around the country, including in Alexandria, Suez and Minya in Middle Egypt.

Although ostensibly a protest against Mr Morsi's presidential decree, yesterday's rally also bore the signs of being an emphatic rebuke to the very idea of Islamist rule. "I don't want to change the constitution," said 56-year-old Zain el-Abdeen. "I want Mohamed Morsi to fall."

Festooned above the circular lawn plaza in the centre of the square, an enormous banner read "Egypt for all of the Egyptians" – a reference to the fears of many anti-Islamists that a Muslim Brotherhood administration would govern only for the interests of its own members.

In an example of what many Egyptians fear the most – an ugly political split along religious lines which may even pave the way for a counter-revolution by the army or elements from the old regime – there were also signs calling for the downfall of the Brotherhood's Supreme Guide, Mohammed Badie.

"Mohamed Morsi has no vision," said Taiseer Fahmy, an Egyptian actress, as she sat inside her tent in the middle of Tahrir Square. "There is no plan from his government."

The 59-year-old, who heads the Equality and Development Party, said she was worried about the idea of theocratic rule. "Hosni Mubarak was corrupt, but Mohamed Morsi belongs to the Muslim Brotherhood and not to Egypt."

The decree issued by Morsi last Thursday has whipped up a firestorm in Egyptian politics. His opponents accused the new president – who this time last week was basking in near-universal praise for his role in the Gaza ceasefire – of turning himself into "Mubarak with a beard".

The nation's judges meanwhile, stung after being stripped of their constitutional oversight role, also staged a revolt. Last-ditch efforts to win them round appeared to have failed after a meeting between Mr Morsi and the judiciary produced no major concessions.

One blogger, who writes under The Big Pharaoh, speculated that the president was so buoyed by the praise from America that he felt empowered to charge forward with his decree.

Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Sport
The Pipes and Drums of The Scottish Regiments perform during the Opening Ceremony for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park on July 23, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland.
Commonwealth GamesThe actor encouraged the one billion viewers of the event to donate to the children's charity
Sport
Karen Dunbar performs
Entertainers showcase local wit, talent and irrepressible spirit
Sport
Members of the Scotland deleagtion walk past during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
News
Very tasty: Vladimir Putin dining alone, perhaps sensibly
news
Life and Style
Listen here: Apple EarPods offer an alternative
techAre custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?
Arts and Entertainment
Top guns: Cole advised the makers of Second World War film Fury, starring Brad Pitt
filmLt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a uniform
News
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
News
Joining forces: young British men feature in an Isis video in which they urge Islamists in the West to join them in Iraq and Syria
newsWill the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
books
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

BI Manager - £50,000

£49000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...

BI Project Manager - £48,000 - £54,000 - Midlands

£48000 - £54000 per annum + Benefits package: Progressive Recruitment: My clie...

VB.Net Developer

£35000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: If you're pa...

SAP Business Consultant (SD, MM and FICO), £55,000, Wakefield

£45000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP Business...

Day In a Page

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game