CAIRO — Egypt's Interior Ministry says three-million protesters turned out Sunday to demand the resignation of embattled President Mohamed Morsi. The large crowds resembled demonstrations during the country's January 25th Revolution in 2011, which toppled veteran strongman Hosni Mubarak.
Tens of thousands of protesters turned out Sunday in Cairo's iconic Tahrir Square, braving the summer heat, to demand the resignation of President Mohamed Morsi and early presidential elections. Crowds swelled throughout the afternoon as demonstrators arrived from across the city.
Top opposition leaders Mohamed Elbaradei and Amr Moussa marched along with supporters from outlying districts into the already overflowing crowd in Tahrir Square. Army helicopters circled over the city center, drawing periodic applause from those below.
A smaller crowd of Morsi supporters demonstrated for the third consecutive day in front of the Rouba Adawiya Mosque near the presidential palace. Muslim clerics told the crowd the president was “legitimately elected” and “must not be toppled” by street crowds.
Anti-Morsi activists, under the banner of a newly formed group calling itself “Tamarud” or “Rebellion” claim to have gathered 22-million signatures demanding that Morsi step down. His supporters claim to have gathered 11-million signatures calling for him to stay on.
In Egypt's second largest city of Alexandria, thousands of anti-Morsi protesters took to the streets in mostly peaceful protests, unlike violent clashes Friday. Arab TV channels showed thousands of protesters in other cities, including Port Said, Qena, Mahalla al Kubra and Bani Sueif.
Clashes were reported overnight in Bani Sueif, where a Muslim Brotherhood political office was reportedly torched. At least a half dozen other Muslim Brotherhood offices have been sacked during the past 72 hours.
Egyptian state TV reported security forces arrested a number of armed agitators, showing video of guns and other weapons it said were confiscated. Al Arabiya TV reported that a group of armed trouble-makers was also stopped before it could enter Tahrir Square.
Presidential spokesman Ehab Fahmy told journalists that “differing opinions” and “public protests” were “part and parcel of a free society,” but urged Egyptians to avoid sectarian strife and violence. He says it is the responsibility of all Egyptians to avoid bloodshed and Egyptian security forces are working diligently to prevent violence.
The presidential spokesman also responded to a reporter's question about an alleged offer by the Egyptian military to mediate between President Morsi and his opponents by saying that the army has a “limited role related to border security” and is “not needed for mediation.”