News / Africa

Egyptian Opposition Shuns Morsi's Offer of Dialogue

Egyptian army tanks secure the perimeter of the presidential palace while protesters gather chanting slogans against President Mohammed Morsi, in Cairo, Egypt, December 7, 2012.
Egyptian army tanks secure the perimeter of the presidential palace while protesters gather chanting slogans against President Mohammed Morsi, in Cairo, Egypt, December 7, 2012.
Edward Yeranian
Egyptian opposition leaders are refusing a call by President Mohamed Morsi for a dialogue, insisting that he put off a Dec. 15 referendum on a new draft constitution and give up sweeping powers. Tensions in Cairo are also mounting as pro- and anti-Morsi demonstrators gather in different parts of the capital to protest.

A crowd of Islamist supporters of the president gathered at Cairo's Al-Azhar mosque Friday to mourn several of their members killed in violent clashes Wednesday. The Supreme Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohammed Badie, delivered a eulogy to honor those killed.

At the same time, opponents of the president gathered in other parts of the capital to protest what they say are autocratic measures by Morsi. Opposition leaders want him to give up sweeping powers that he has taken and postpone a December 15 referendum on a new constitution.

  • An Egyptian protester reads the newspaper as others sit next to their tents in Tahrir Square in Cairo, December 9, 2012
  • Egyptian men stand near writing on a wall in Arabic that reads down with the leader's rule, no to the Muslim Brotherhood in Tahrir Square in Cairo, December 9, 2012.
  • An Egyptian jet fighter flys over Tahrir Square as protesters gather, not pictured, in Cairo, December 9, 2012.
  • Anti-Mursi protesters walk near a military tank in front of the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, December 8, 2012.
  • Supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood welcome tanks arriving outside the Egyptian presidential palace in Cairo, December 6, 2012.
  • Egyptian Army soldiers install barbed wire outside the presidential palace to secure the site of overnight clashes between supporters and opponents of President Mohamed Morsi in Cairo, Egypt, Dec. 6, 2012
  • Anti-Morsi protesters set off fireworks and shine laser pointers on a road leading to the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, December 6, 2012.
  • Protesters gather during clashes between supporters and opponents of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi outside the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, December 5, 2012.
  • A wounded protester reacts during clashes between supporters and opponents of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi outside the presidential palace in Cairo, December 5, 2012.
  • Supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi carry a body of one of six victims killed during Wednesday's clashes, Al Azhar mosque, Cairo, Egypt, December 7, 2012.
  • Protesters opposing president Mohamed Morsi attend Friday prayers beneath a poster depicting protesters killed in the Egyptian revolution, Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt, December 7, 2012.


Several thousand protesters chanted against Morsi near the presidential palace, despite measures by the army to keep them away from the building.  Earlier, Presidential Guard troops placed cement blocks topped with barbed wire across a main boulevard to block off the area.

Arab media reported that opposition leaders had rejected a call by the president to hold a dialogue Saturday at the presidential palace. Morsi had called for the meeting in a speech Thursday night, but failed to make any major concessions.

The head of the National Salvation Front, Mohammed ElBaradei, told supporters that the president's unwillingness to compromise has created what he calls "a disaster."

ElBaradei says it would have been possible to reach a national consensus over the constitution if Morsi had responded to repeated demands to annul a constitutional declaration giving him sweeping powers, and postpone the December 15 referendum.

Said Sadek, who teaches political sociology at the American University in Cairo, foresees a long period of instability stemming from the increasing polarization of Egyptian society. Sadek thinks the chaos will also erode Morsi's popular support:

"More instability, more chaos and more economic troubles would also undermine the regime of Morsi, because his social base is the countryside and some squatter settlements," said Sadek.  "Now, when there is economic squeezing, this is a base that will be hit harder than the middle class and upper class and they will start screaming, 'where is the food, where is the bread?'"

Sadek says that President Morsi and his Islamist supporters have an us-versus-them view of society which inevitably creates conflict:

"The Islamists, wherever they are, they always cause division in society and the Muslim Brotherhood is dominated by a group who are elderly, under the influence of the writing of Sayyid Qutb, who divided the world into the society of believers and society non-believers," Sadek added.  "So, they look at themselves as the chosen people and the rest are second class citizens."

Islamist followers of the Muslim Brotherhood and those of the more extreme Islamic Salafist sect have joined forces in the recent battle over the constitution.  Secular, leftist and Christian opposition supporters claim that President Morsi is now governing in the name of Islamist forces, rather than of all Egyptians.

You May Like

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid