Protesters clash with Cairo cops
Egyptian protesters and police clashed in Cairo yesterday just hours ahead of a planned massive rally by opponents of the country's president, demanding he rescind decrees granting him powers.
Police fired tear gas and hundreds of protesters pelted them with rocks at a street between the US Embassy and Tahrir Square, birthplace of the uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak’s authoritarian regime nearly two years ago.
The protesters have been staging a sit-in at the square since Friday night to demand President Mohammed Morsi revoke his decrees.
By mid-day, hundreds were starting to gather in Tahrir, chanting against Morsi’s decrees and the Muslim Brotherhood. A new banner in the square proclaimed, “The Brotherhood stole the country”.
“We are here to bring down the constitutional declaration issued by Morsi,” said one protester at Tahrir, Mahmoud Youssef. Meanwhile, hundreds of lawyers gathered outside their union building ahead of their march to Tahrir. “Leave, leave,” they chanted, addressing Morsi.
The rally planned for later yesterday, with marches from various parts of Cairo to converge on Tahrir, was to be a significant test of the opposition’s ability to bring out supporters and the public against Morsi’s edicts issued last week.
They say the decrees give Morsi near dictatorial powers by neutralising the judiciary. Key parts of the judicial system have also denounced the measures.
Morsi, in office since June, says the decrees are necessary to protect the “revolution” and the nation’s transition to democratic rule.
His declaration made all his decisions immune to judicial review and banned the courts from dissolving the upper house of parliament.
The decree also gave Morsi sweeping authority to stop any “threats” to the revolution.