Tuesday,21 November, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1124, 29 November - 5 December 2012
Tuesday,21 November, 2017
Issue 1124, 29 November - 5 December 2012

Ahram Weekly

For and against Morsi

Demonstrations turned violent in many cities across Egypt, reports Ahmed Morsy

Al-Ahram Weekly

Protesters supporting and opposing last week’s constitutional declaration issued by President Mohamed Morsi have been taking to the streets in many cities across Egypt to voice their acceptance and rejection, sometimes violently.
Although it cancelled its million-man demonstration, which was scheduled to be held in front of Cairo University on Tuesday, the Muslim Brotherhood organised mass rallies in governorates across Egypt on the same day. A rally supporting the president was organised in Alexandria, in cooperation with the Salafis and Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya.
In Mahalla, clashes erupted on Tuesday between dozens of demonstrators representing civil forces and members of the Muslim Brotherhood, Morsi’s main supporters. The two sides exchanged stone-throwing and fireworks. A rocket fell on an electrical cable, leading to a power cut in a large part of the city. Eyewitnesses said that street battles between the two parties caused at least 90 injuries by nightfall.
In Fayoum, 130 kilometres southwest of Cairo, members of the liberal Wafd Party staged a protest on Tuesday in front of the party’s headquarters at Al-Bahr Street, expressing their rejection of Morsi’s constitutional declaration which, among other things, gave him sweeping powers without judicial accountability, and declaring their solidarity with judges. They raised a banner reading “Wafd Party rejects the constitutional declaration”. A day earlier, various civil groups and movements organised a demonstration in the same city.
Elsewhere, Assiut, a major governorate in Upper Egypt, witnessed several clashes between supporters and opponents of Morsi’s declaration. At Assiut University campus, marches were staged in favour of and against the president’s decisions. The president’s supporters clashed with opponents, however, intervention by a group of elderly people eventually calmed the situation down.
Also in Assiut, about 1,000 Al-Azhar students and faculty members marched to the governorate’s headquarters in support of the president’s declaration. “The people demand a purge of the judiciary,” protesters chanted during their march on Tuesday.
On the same day, hundreds of protesters demonstrated in Sharm El-Sheikh demanding Morsi to cancel his newly-released decree which, in their opinion, does not agree with the vast majority of Egyptians.
The demonstration of Sharm El-Sheikh was staged on Tuesday afternoon in front of the Martyrs’ Mosque and was organised by members of the Dostour Party, Strong Egypt Party, and Wafd Party in addition to the activist 6 April movement. They argued that the new edict would create a dictator.
At Ismailia, thousands of demonstrators marched to protest against the presidential decree. Members of civil parties and political movements as well as independent activists from various political trends gathered by the hundreds in response to an invitation from the National Salvation Front to reject Morsi’s decree.
“It is now necessary for Morsi to back down on his decisions which threaten the country’s security and stability and led the Egyptians to be divided into two,” Hamdi Shahin, a protester in Ismailia’s march, told Al-Ahram Weekly, adding that cancelling the constitutional declaration has become a must “to save Egyptian blood”.
Throughout the week, the Muslim Brotherhood marched in 20 of Egypt’s governorates in support of Morsi’s constitutional declaration, and in reply to opposition protests denouncing it. The Brotherhood and its political arm the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), alongside other Islamists groups including the Salafist Nour Party, marched in Cairo, Alexandria, Assiut, Sharqiya, Arish and at least 15 other governorates.
Several protests turned violent on Friday as the Brotherhood’s marches crossed paths with opposition marches protesting against the president’s decree. In the Beheira capital of Damanhour, Islam Fathi, a 15-year-old boy, was killed in clashes between the Brotherhood and the opposition on Sunday.
Fathi was killed by hired thugs who broke into the Brotherhood’s headquarters in Saah Square in Damanhour, according to the FJP website. The assailants had been repeatedly trying to storm the offices of the Muslim Brotherhood in various governorates for two straight days “amid a complete and strange” absence of security, the official website reported. Police authorities in Damanhour arrested 12 suspects late Saturday for instigating clashes amid multiple-city violence between Muslim Brotherhood supporters and opposition that erupted on Friday.
Egyptian Freedom and Justice Party leader Gamal Heshmat contended that Muslim Brotherhood member Fathi was killed as a result of political parties resorting to “ferocious violence” as a “democratic” way of facing up to the Brotherhood.
“I condemn the security failure to arrest the thugs,” Heshmat said, pointing out that he and other FJP leaders contacted security and asked them to intervene because there were large numbers of thugs gathering outside the Brotherhood headquarters in Damanhour, but they arrived too late.
Clashes also broke out in front of the Freedom and Justice Party offices in Tanta in the Nile Delta on Sunday night between dozens who reject the decree and FJP members who gathered to protect their party’s headquarters.
“I condemn the acts of thuggery disguised as political activity, attacking the Muslim Brotherhood and the FJP offices in several provinces across Egypt,” Essam Al-Erian, vice chairman of the FJP, said on his party website, adding that assailants will not escape justice, and that security should be questioned for negligence.
On Saturday, Alexandria saw hours of fighting when a group of anti-Morsi protesters were confronted by Muslim Brotherhood members outside Al-Qaed Ibrahim Mosque. In the same coastal city, at the downtown office of FJP, anti-Morsi protesters threw stones and furniture onto the street, broke down doors and windows, and set the office on fire. Likewise, the FJP office in the Alexandria neighbourhood of Semouha was attacked by opposition protesters but Muslim Brotherhood members were present in large numbers to safeguard it.
Suez did not escape violence; on Friday evening a group of anti-Morsi protesters attacked the local office of the FJP. Police reinforcements quickly responded to the stones and Molotov cocktails being thrown.

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