Egyptian protesters chant anti-Muslim Brotherhood slogans during a rally in front of the presidential palace

Thousands protest at Egyptian presidential palace

CAIRO, Egypt — Thousands of Egyptians massed in Cairo Tuesday for a march to the presidential palace to protest the assumption by the nation’s Islamist president of nearly unrestricted powers and a draft constitution hurriedly adopted by his allies.

CAIRO, Egypt — Thousands of Egyptians massed in Cairo Tuesday for a march to the presidential palace to protest the assumption by the nation’s Islamist president of nearly unrestricted powers and a draft constitution hurriedly adopted by his allies.

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

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.

Hundreds of black-clad riot police deployed around the Itihadiya palace in Cairo’s district of Heliopolis. Barbed wire was also placed outside the complex, and side roads leading to it were blocked to traffic. Protesters gathered at Cairo’s Tahrir square and several other points not far from the palace to march to the presidential complex.

“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, alluding to the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood from which Morsi hails.

“This is the last warning before we lay siege on 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 cancelled.”

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 is business as usual at the presidential palace despite the planned rally.

A large turnout would signal 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 court had been widely expected Sunday to declare the constitutional assembly that passed the draft charter on Friday to be illegitimate and to disband parliament’s upper house, the Shura Council. Instead, the judges went on strike after they found their building under siege by protesters.

The opposition has yet to say whether it intends to focus its energy on rallying support for a boycott of the Dec. 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.

Already 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 Nov. 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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Third Albertan dies, 46 cases in central zone

A third Albertan has died from COVID-19, province announced Sunday. Forty additional… Continue reading

A message from the Advocate publisher

In good times and bad, The Red Deer Advocate has been here… Continue reading

Vaccine not expected until January 2021 for COVID-19, video posted on Alberta premier’s Facebook page shows

Premier Jason Kenney and Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw discuss vaccines

Red Deer: Put a bear in your window so kids can count them

Red Deer woman wants kids to go on ‘bear hunt’

City of Red Deer asks residents to help protect the pipes

Products that can cause blockages include towel, diapers, food scraps and fat, oil and grease

Alberta Health Services provides COVID-19 prevention tips

Alberta Health Services has a number of recommendations for people amid the… Continue reading

Alberta government website has latest COVID-19 statistics

Red Deer Advocate readers can stay up to date on the COVID-19… Continue reading

‘Worse than any flu’: Canadians describe how it feels to have COVID-19

“I woke up with a little scratch in my throat and started trying to cough it up”

Feds rolling out help for charities hit hard by COVID-19 economic slowdown

OTTAWA — The federal government signalled Sunday it is shifting the focus… Continue reading

Five things to watch for in the Canadian business world in the coming week

Thousands have already lost their jobs, while others like grocers look for ways to keep doors open

Athletes, musicians help raise 500,000 euros to fight virus

“It’s a very difficult situation, and for the league to be able to do something like this, it makes players, clubs and fans very proud”

Tokyo Olympics: Signs suggest summer dates for 2021 Olympics

Organizing committee suggested there would be no major change from 2020.

Most Read