Mass protests against Mursi at Egypt’s Tahrir Square
Cairo: Adamant on their demand that President Mohammed Mursi must rescind his decrees granting him sweeping powers, tens of thousands of Egyptians thronged Tahrir Square, chanting the slogans that reverberated in Egypt during Hosni Mubarak’s ouster revolution a year ago.
The massive rally of more than 200,000 people, waving banners and flags and sloganeering against their first freely elected President, was reminiscent of the last year’s Arab revolution in Egypt when the dictator Mubarak was toppled.
Ahead of the rally, the opposition men also clashed with Cairo police who were protecting the US embassy, resulting in the death of a man in his fifties by inhaling tear gas, the BBC reported.
Earlier, even Muslim Brotherhood had planned a rival mass rally in response to opposition’s plans but the Islamists dropped the plan in a sign that Mursi does not want to heighten the tension.
Ahead of today’s rally, Mursi on Monday had tried to stave off the crisis by meeting top judges and assuring them that his decrees didn’t infringe on judiciary.
Mursi also reasoned that the decree was temporary and was limited in scope
The protests came after Mursi issued decrees last week that granted him absolute powers.
Morsi and his supporters say the decrees were necessary to prevent the judiciary from blocking the "revolution's goals" of a transition to democracy. The courts — where many Mubarak-era judges still hold powerful posts — have already disbanded the first post-Mubarak elected parliament, which was led by the Brotherhood. Now it could also take aim at the Islamist-led upper house of parliament.
Morsi's decrees ban the judiciary from doing so and grant his decisions immunity from judicial review. Morsi also gave himself sweeping powers to prevent threats to the revolution, stability or state institutions, which critics say are tantamount to emergency laws. These powers are to remain in effect until the constitution is approved and parliamentary elections are held, not likely before spring 2013.
Opponents say the decrees turn Morsi into a new dictator, given that he holds not only executive but also legislative powers, after the lower house of parliament was dissolved.
which opponents say have used election victories to monopolize power, squeeze out rivals and dictate a new, Islamist constitution, while doing little to solve Egypt's mounting economic and security woes.
Earlier, clashes had broken out across several cities between Mursi’s opponents and supporters, killing one teenager and injuring many.
Several Brotherhood offices were attacked. Protesters and Brotherhood members pelted each other with stones and firebombs in the Nile Delta city of Mahalla el-Kobra, leaving at least 100 people injured.
Tuesday's turnout was an unprecedented show of strength by the mainly liberal and secular opposition, which has been divided and uncertain amid the rise to power of the Brotherhood over the past year. The crowds were of all stripes, including many first-time protesters.
Many in the crowd said they were determined to push ahead with the protests until Morsi retreats. A major concern was that Islamists would use the decree's protection of the constitutional assembly to drive through their vision for the next charter, with a heavy emphasis on implementing Shariah, or Islamic law. The assembly has been plagued with controversy, and more than two dozen of its 100 members have quit in recent days to protest Islamist control.
"Next Friday will be decisive," protester Islam Bayoumi said of the upcoming rally. "If people maintain the same pressure and come in large numbers, they could manage to press the president and rescue the constitution."