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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Turkish Law Gives Spy Agency Controversial Powers

Parliament approves legislation to bolster powers of intelligence service, which government claims is necessary to modernize and deal with new threats Turkey faces More

Video Face of American Farmer Changing

Average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Face of American Farmer is Changingi
X
Mike Osborne
April 18, 2014
The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid