News / Middle East

    Multiple Protests Rock Egypt

    Anti-Morsi protesters chant anti-government slogans at Tahrir Square in Cairo, December 11, 2012.
    Anti-Morsi protesters chant anti-government slogans at Tahrir Square in Cairo, December 11, 2012.
    Edward Yeranian
    Multiple protests are taking place in Cairo and across Egypt Tuesday, both by Islamist supporters of President Mohamed Morsi and by the opposition National Salvation Front.

    Crowds of opposition protesters began converging on the presidential palace by late afternoon Tuesday, as marchers poured in from several parts of the capital. Three walls of large cement blocks prevented the crowd from getting close to the building.

    VOA correspondent Elizabeth Arrott said from the scene that several thousand demonstrators chanted demands to topple the regime. Some held signs urging to vote "no" on the referendum.

    Arrott said thousands of Muslim Brotherhood members and other Islamists rallied at a nearby site, chanting support for Morsi. A Brotherhood leader said there are no plans to march on the palace.

    Islamist supporters of the president mobilized in front of several Cairo mosques, chanting slogans in favor of the new constitution. Islamist demonstrations were also reported in Alexandria, Assiout and Suez.

    • An army soldier guards his tank in front the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, December 12, 2012.
    • Children play around protest camp tents in Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt, December 12, 2012.
    • Army tanks, left, deploy as Egyptian protesters gather outside the presidential palace during a demonstration against President Mohamed Morsi in Cairo, Egypt, December 11, 2012.
    • Protesters chant anti-government slogans in Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt, December 11, 2012.
    • Protesters gather in Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt, December 11, 2012.
    • Anti-Morsi protesters shout slogans as they stand on top of a wall in front of the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, December 11, 2012.
    • People clash with anti-Morsi protesters, after the protesters blocked the gate of a government building near Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt, December 11, 2012.
    • Anti-Morsi protesters sit outside their tents, below a flag that reads, "No, to Constitution," Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt, December 10, 2012.
    • Protesters chant slogans during a demonstration in front of the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, December 9, 2012.
    • Protesters push army soldiers standing guard in front of the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, December 9, 2012.
    • Protesters chant slogans during a demonstration in front of the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, December 9, 2012.
    • Soldiers stand guard on top of a tank in front of the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, December 9, 2012.


    The Egyptian military called for all political parties to meet on Wednesday at a military sports complex to resolve the crisis, the state news agency reported. There was no immediate response from various political groups.

    Mohamed ElBaradei, who heads the opposition National Salvation Front, said his group was still debating whether to boycott Saturday's scheduled referendum on the controversial new constitution or ask supporters to vote no. Islamists are urging Egyptians to vote “yes.”

    Referendum as civic duty

    In a press conference at Cairo's Islamic al Azhar University, Sheikh Ahmed Olayil said it is the civic duty of all Egyptians to turn out for the referendum, no matter how they vote.
     
    He said going to vote is a national obligation, and it doesn't matter if people vote "yes" or if they vote "no." He said that the 2011 uprising against the government was based on the principle of "destroying' corruption in the old regime," while the objective now is to build new government institutions.
     
    But Prime Minister Hisham Qandil, in a separate press conference, said the crisis in Egypt is economic and that political differences need to be solved to attack that problem.
     
    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
    Qandil said a national dialogue will be held next week to discuss controversial proposed tax hikes and to determine how to move ahead in solving the economic crisis. He said the ongoing political instability is preventing a solution to the economic crisis.

    Meanwhile, President Mohamed Morsi met with a stream of supporters and opponents at the presidential palace, including the head of the opposition Wafd party, Sayyed Badawi.

    A clash of generational forces

    Analyst James Denselow of Kings' College London said the current conflict is the product of a clash between three separate and distinct forces in Egyptian society.

    "You have three dynamic elements clashing which each other," he said. They involve "the Muslim Brotherhood's attempt to consolidate its rule through Morsi's constitutional referendum; the traditional Mubarak era structures of power - the military and the security services - attempting to define their role in the post-Mubarak era; and the post-Arab Spring, Tahrir Square generation, who are unwilling to sit quietly by while dramatic and drastic changes occur...."

    Meanwhile, the International Monetary Fund has placed a $4.8 billion loan to Egypt on hold Tuesday as the political tensions grip the nation. The Egyptian government says it first wants to better explain austerity measures tied to the planned loan.

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Anonymous
    December 11, 2012 10:23 AM
    the last sentence is incomplete and misleading: it should have said that the 7 casualties are from the islamists

    by: Philip Smeeton from: Norway
    December 11, 2012 8:57 AM
    We have to stop aiding Islamists in the Middle East. They feel that anything that they do in the name of Islam is justified. Threats, terror and murder, it is the Muslim way.

    by: Brad Naksuthin
    December 11, 2012 8:28 AM

    America needs to learn a lesson from what's happening in Egypt.

    Whenever religious groups gain political power they try to impose their beliefs on EVERYONE...even those who don't worship the same God.
    Religious people delude themselves into thinking they are following the teachings of Allah or God or Jehovah or a divinity they automatically apply their beliefs to EVERYONE else.

    We must be vigilant to prevent something like this happening in the US.

    Already Christians are trying to use political power to force their views on abortion, contraception, stem cell research, euthanasia, same sex marriage, drugs and prostitution etc. on ALL Americans...even those who do not follow their rules or believe in their God.

    There is no difference between the goals of the Muslim Brotherhood and the goals of the Christian Taliban




    In Response

    by: ali baba from: new york
    December 11, 2012 8:24 PM
    in fact Egypt have to learn from us. they have to learn separation of state from religion .they have to learn freedom of speech .they have to learn to establish secular Gov. they have to eliminate salfi and Muslim brotherhood from politics

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