News / Middle East

Egypt Protesters Threaten Presidential Palace

Egyptian protesters chant anti-Muslim Brotherhood and Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi slogans outside the presidential palace after they broke a barbed wire barricade keeping them from getting closer to the presidential palace, in Cairo, Dec. 7, 2012.
Egyptian protesters chant anti-Muslim Brotherhood and Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi slogans outside the presidential palace after they broke a barbed wire barricade keeping them from getting closer to the presidential palace, in Cairo, Dec. 7, 2012.
TEXT SIZE - +
VOA NewsJeff Seldin
Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi's opponents have broken through barbed-wire cordons around the presidential palace in Cairo, where tens of thousands of protesters have gathered.

It was not immediately clear whether protesters penetrated the main gate of the palace, where army tanks are deployed. Cairo was gripped by protests against Morsi and demonstrations by his supporters throughout the day Friday.

Thousands of Morsi supporters, many of them members of his Muslim Brotherhood, gathered outside the Al-Azhar mosque for the funerals of two men killed in bloody clashes this week.

VOA's Cairo Bureau Chief Elizabeth Arrott, says anti-Morsi protesters gave no indication they plan to end their rallies any time soon.  “They say as long as he is planning on going ahead with this controversial draft constitution and referendum on it next week, as well as keeping hold of these extraordinary powers that he’s granted to himself temporarily, there’s no basis for dialogue,” said Arrott.

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

 
Angry protests

Protesters like Hussein Zayed say they have had enough.  "[President Morsi] doesn't know anything, and he described all Egyptians as 'thugs,'" said Zayed.  "He is a liar and he said that those who killed the protesters are thugs, but the real thugs are the Muslim Brotherhood.''
 
Other Cairo residents say it is time for the opposition to play by the rules.  One man, named Osama, says the referendum on the constitution should go ahead.  Osama asked, "Don't the liberals want democracy?  ...Don't they agree with going to the ballot box?"
 
Egypt's Draft Constitution

  • Limits president to two four-year terms
  • Provides protections against arbitrary detention and torture
  • Islamic law, or Sharia, serves as the basis for legislation
  • Religious freedom is limited to Muslims, Christians and Jews
  • Citizens are deemed equal before the law and equal in rights
Osama said that if the referendum on December 15 produces a "yes" vote on the constitution, that will be because Egyptians want "stability." But, he added, "those protesters [over there] don't ever want stability.''
 
VOA's Arrott says the situation remains dangerous, with plenty of potential for more clashes.  “The police and other security on Wednesday were able to put a line between the two [opposing groups] on the main street, but again most of these clashes just moved off onto the side streets and continued on there.”
 
New protests have also broken out in Alexandria, where hundreds of people massed in the streets called on Morsi to step down.
 
Opposition leaders said Friday they will not attend Morsi's proposed "comprehensive" dialogue on Saturday.  The Egyptian leader has insisted that dialogue is the only solution to the country's constitutional crisis.

Morsi stands firm

In this image made from video, Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi delivers a televised statement in Cairo, Egypt, Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012.In this image made from video, Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi delivers a televised statement in Cairo, Egypt, Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012.
x
In this image made from video, Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi delivers a televised statement in Cairo, Egypt, Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012.
In this image made from video, Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi delivers a televised statement in Cairo, Egypt, Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012.
Speaking on national television Thursday, Morsi said he will not tolerate killings or sabotage.  Morsi said seven people were killed outside the presidential palace and more than 700 others were injured during this week's demonstrations. The president said 80 people were arrested for crimes including the use of firearms, and he claimed so0me of them were "hired for money."

U.S. President Barack Obama spoke with Morsi by telephone Thursday to voice "deep concern" about the protest deaths and injuries.  A White House statement said Obama also urged all Egyptian political leaders to make clear to their supporters that violence is unacceptable.  

Morsi said he will form a new advisory panel to write a new draft constitution if the referendum next week votes "no" on the proposed charter.  Critics say the present draft constitution was drafted solely by Islamists, without input from those who disagree with Morsi.​

Jeff Seldin

Jeff works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters covering a wide variety of subjects, from the nature of the growing terror threat in Northern Africa to China’s crackdown on Tibet and the struggle over immigration reform in the United States. You can follow Jeff on Twitter at @jseldin or on Google Plus.

You May Like

Photogallery Pope's Easter Prayer: Peace in Ukraine, Syria

Pontiff also calls for end to terrorist acts in Nigeria, violence in Iraq, and success in peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians More

Abdullah Holds Lead in Afghan Presidential Election

Country's Election Commission says that with half of the ballots counted, former FM remains in the lead with 44 percent of the vote More

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Could Trigger Cyber War

As tensions between Kyiv and Moscow escalate, so too has frequency of online attacks targeting government, news and financial sites More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
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