News / Middle East

Protests Heat Up Across Egypt

Egyptian protesters shout anti-Muslim Brotherhood slogans as they hold posters depicting U.S. Ambassador to Egypt Anne Patterson and President Mohammed Morsi during a protest in Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt, June 28, 2013.
Egyptian protesters shout anti-Muslim Brotherhood slogans as they hold posters depicting U.S. Ambassador to Egypt Anne Patterson and President Mohammed Morsi during a protest in Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt, June 28, 2013.
Edward Yeranian
Backers and opponents of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi have traded gunfire and thrown firecrackers at each other during brutal street fighting in Alexandria.

Riot police moved in with armored vehicles and tear gas, but not before the offices of Morsi's political party were set on fire.

Authorities say two people have been killed, including a U.S. citizen stabbed to death while taking pictures of the riots. The State Department has issued a travel warning for Egypt, telling Americas to put off non-essential travel there. Some embassy workers and their families will be evacuated.

Protesters also are gathering in Cairo's Tahrir Square, waving Egyptian flags and calling for Morsi's departure. They are preparing for a massive anti-government rally Sunday, the one-year anniversary of Morsi's presidency.

The opposition accuses Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood movement of trying to undermine secular rights and not living up to the 2011 uprising that forced ex-president Hosni Mubarak to flee.

A few thousand Morsi supporters gathered in front of a mosque in the outlying Cairo district of Nasr City during Friday prayers. Many carried banners proclaiming support for the president and the crowd broke into periodic chants of “Islamic rule, Islamic rule.”

Supporters of Morsi rally in the suburb of Nasr City, Cairo, June 28, 2013.
Supporters of Morsi rally in the suburb of Nasr City, Cairo, June 28, 2013.

At the same time, anti-Morsi protesters chanted slogans calling for the president to resign, marching from at least three Cairo districts towards the city's iconic Tahrir Square.

In Egypt's second largest city, Alexandria, still more anti-government protesters turned out in force, fighting with guns and firecrackers.  At least one person was killed while the offices of Morsi's political party were set on fire.

Riot police moved in with armored vehicles to break up the clashes, firing tear gas in an effort to clear the streets of protesters demanding that the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood group stop meddling in politics.

Battles between Morsi supporters and opponents in the provincial regions of Fayyoum, Sharqiya and Dhekeliya left at least three dead and 300 wounded in the last 48 hours. At least one Muslim Brotherhood political office was attacked and burned, near Cairo.

A new opposition movement calling itself “tamarud” or “rebellion” claims to have gathered 15 million signatures asking the president to step down. There is worry that young tamarud members will clash with the president's supporters who say that he was “democratically” elected and must remain.

Said Sadek, who teaches political sociology at the American University in Cairo, said that the situation in the country is “explosive.” But the fundamental conflict is economic.

"Political Islam reflects class struggle in the country. It's not religious," he said. "They are using religious terminology to cover up for socio-economic differences and rivalry and competition. It's a pure political conflict, that [Morsi] is incompetent, that he doesn't deliver, he doesn't know how to manage the country, he is dividing the country, he is not delivering the objectives of the revolution."

Societal conflict in Egypt will not be resolved by street protests, Middle East scholar Fouad Ajami of the Hoover Institution said, adding that little will come out of the this cycle of protests:

"It's an essential political stalemate and the protests will not offer deliverance from that kind of stalemate, because the regime has its crowds," said Ajami. "The opposition has its crowds, and let us not forget that Morsi has on his side that very elusive but nevertheless very powerful prop in a situation like that: legitimacy.....The protests will tell us of the unease in the country and of its divisions and the morning after the protests we shall return to the same stalemate."

Egypt's army officials told cadets recently that the military would only intervene in the country's political conflict if violence were to break out in the streets.

  • Opponents of Egypt's Islamist President Mohamed Morsi wave national flags in Tahrir Square in Cairo, June 28, 2013.
  • An Egyptian protester shouts anti-President Mohamed Morsi slogans and holds a red card that reads "leave" in Arabic during a protest in Tahrir Square, Cairo, June 28, 2013.
  • Islamists and supporters of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi shout slogans during a protest around the Raba El-Adwyia mosque square in the suburb of Nasr City, Cairo, June 28, 2013.
  • Islamists, members of the brotherhood, and supporters of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, shout slogans during a protest around the Raba El-Adwyia mosque square in the suburb of Nasr City, Cairo, June 28, 2013.
  • An Egyptian protester holds posters depicting U.S. Ambassador to Egypt Anne Patterson and President Mohamed Morsi at an entrance to Tahrir Square in Cairo, June 28, 2013.
  • Opponents of Egypt's Islamist President Mohamed Morsi camp outside the presidential palace ahead of mass protests in Cairo, June 28, 2013.
  • Egyptian women chant slogans against President Mohamed Morsi during a demonstration in Tahrir Square in Cairo, June 27, 2013.

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Comment Sorting
by: Davis K. Thanjan from: New York
June 28, 2013 5:52 PM
Morsi of the Islamic Brotherhood was elected democratically in Egypt just like Hitler of the Nazis in Germany. Democracy is not the dictatorship of the majority, but the sharing of the power with all the people.
In Response

by: Amr Hashem from: saudi Arrabia
June 29, 2013 2:06 AM
I agree with you that the sharing of power should be among all parties of people not by one person but if the other parties want to seize the power and Morsi ahould be stepped down. i think in this case, Morsi has the right of legitimacy upon the willness of people.

by: DORAI RAJ L from: Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu.
June 28, 2013 1:56 PM
First all should discuss whether religions should take part in administration. Because I do think religions involving in administration is out-dated. Most of the global communities have come out of that and in a very few countries only, people still stick to that old style or administration. Still I respect all those who are in support of Morsi. I believe they might have discussed all before they took a decision to support Morsi. But it is the time to take a firm decision on this matter.

by: Dr. Malek Towghi from: USA
June 28, 2013 1:47 PM
Mr. Morsi & All other Islamists of the World,

There will never be peace and tranquility in your societies nor respect for you abroad unless you constitutionally, sincerely and honestly separate religion / Islam from common educational, civic, political, state and international affairs. No cheating ala the Turkish ruling Islamists, Please!

by: Godwin from: Nigeria
June 28, 2013 1:17 PM
Morsi's incompetence can be traced to his unpreparedness. The so-called muslim brotherhood was not prepared for the elections. They had promised not to present a presidential candidate. Then, suddenly, there was a U-turn, and Morsi appeared from nowhere. Appearing from nowhere also means he may either not know where he's going or who he pretends to lead. Which is the reason for his palpable and resounding failure. The present day politicking is not a matter of constituency but the ability to deliver. Unfortunately the barbaric and fundamentalist islamists in Egypt, especially fronted by muslim brotherhood, do not understand it, living in the Stone Age. Mubarak made the mistake of not using his military might to open up the society, probably trying to favor the hard line islamists. But to his chagrin he must have realized too late that they did not deserve that respect - gold ring to the pig's snout. Egypt, about the oldest civilization from the ancient world, is now being taught what civilization means - freedom to people, liberty to live their lives, and good interpersonal relationships without the state autocracy interference. Egypt needs to return to the classrooms again to learn how to tame the barbaric islamists and bring them up to modern day realities. No one is against what religion the individual chooses, but let everyone be free to make their choices in Egypt. The days when people, churches or buildings are burnt because someone wants to switch religion, especially away from islam, is over. If Egypt will not learn that, then the UN and the civilized world should enforce it on them. No longer to treat citizens of the same country as inferior or second rate because they refuse to embrace islam. Morsi must ensure that or jump down from the presidential throne. Let a competent person with the clout and maneuver take over and navigate the country until it arrives in sfety. That is what is required in Egypt now. Can Morsi promise that?

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