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

Video Analysts: Beijing Parade a 'Bazaar' of Stolen Technology

Show commemorating victory over Japan in World War II involved long, medium and short range missiles, a range of tanks and 200 fighter aircraft More

Bernie Sanders Surge Reflects US Shift on Socialism

Although most analysts say it is unlikely he will get the Democratic nomination, Sanders' campaign opens up questions and issues that are otherwise marginalized More

Video On IS Frontline, Kurdish Fighters Ready for Offensive

Peshmerga soldiers say although they need more heavy artillery, they are poised to take the fight to the Islamic State extremists on their turf More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outragei
X
Henry Ridgwell
September 04, 2015 11:36 AM
The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outrage

The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Russians Observe 11th Anniversary of Beslan School Attack

This week, Russians have been observing the 11th anniversary of the attack by Islamic militants on a school in Russia's North Caucasus region that killed more than 330 hostages, including 186 children. The three-day siege and massacre that started on September 1, 2004 took place in Beslan, a town in the republic of North Ossetia, and is one of the bloodiest terrorist acts ever in Russia. VOA's Mike Richman reports.
Video

Video Native Americans Debate: Father Serra, Saint or Sinner?

Pope Francis will canonize an 18th century missionary to Spanish California during a papal visit to the United States this month.  But some Native Americans have criticized the elevation to sainthood of the missionary priest, Junipero Serra. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisis

Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Kurdish Fighters on IS Frontline Ready for Offensive

Finger on the trigger, the Kurdish Peshmerga soldier stared across the dust at a village taken over by Islamic State extremists. The Kurdistan’s Khazir frontline, just 45 minutes from the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. And at this point, the militants were less than two kilometers away. VOA's Sharon Behn reports.
Video

Video China Announces Troop Cuts at WWII Parade

Chinese President Xi Jinping Thursday announced plans to cut the world’s largest military force by 300,000 troops. The announcement was made during a massive military parade to commemorate victory over Japan in World War II. The event was shunned by most Western leaders and for some is raising fresh concerns about China’s military ambitions. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Russia-Japan Relations Cool as Putin Visits China for WWII Anniversary

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Beijing for commemorations of the 70th anniversary of China's WWII victory over Japan. Putin is expected to visit Japan later this year, but tensions between Tokyo and Moscow over islands disputed since the war, and sanctions over Ukraine, could pour cold water on the plan. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Yemen ‘on Brink of Disaster’ as Medical Shortages Soar

Aid agencies warn Yemen is on the brink of humanitarian disaster – with up to half a million children facing severe malnutrition, and hospitals running out of basic medicines. There are fears Yemen's civil war could escalate as the coalition led by Saudi Arabia tries to drive back Houthi rebels, who seized control of much of the country earlier this year. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Apps Helping Kenyan Businesses Stay Ahead of Counterfeiters

Counterfeit goods in Kenya cost the government as much as $1 billion each year in lost tax revenues. The fake goods also hurt entrepreneurs who find it hard to carve out a niche in the market and retain customers. But as Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi, information technology is being used to try to beat the problem.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.

VOA Blogs