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 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

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More