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.
    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 and is national security correspondent. You can follow Jeff on Twitter at @jseldin or on Google Plus.

    You May Like

    Russia Sees Brexit Impact Widespread but Temporary

    Officials, citizens react to Britain’s vote to exit European Union with mix of pleasure, understanding and concern

    Obama Encourages Entrepreneurs to Seek Global Interconnection

    President tells entrepreneurs at global summit at Stanford University to find mentors, push ahead with new ideas on day after Britain voters decide to exit EU

    Video Some US Gun Owners Support Gun Control

    Defying the stereotype, Dave Makings says he'd give up his assault rifle for a comprehensive program to reduce gun violence

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Unchartered Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Unchartered Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora