Egyptian Islamists rally to back Morsy
CAIRO — Tens of thousands of Islamists rallied here Saturday to back President Mohamed Morsy's seizure of near-total power and a draft constitution with an Islamist bent.
A referendum on the constitution is set for Dec. 15.
Morsy has made its adoption a condition for rescinding a Nov. 22 power-grabbing decree that largely neutralized the country's judges.
His decree sent judges out on strike — and tens of thousands of angry Egyptians into the streets, in one of the larger demonstrations since the 2011 ouster of dictator Hosni Mubarak.
In a televised address, Morsy told Egyptians the proposed constitution is “the fruits of your ideas and discussions.”
Across the capital, several thousand members of liberal, leftist and other anti-Morsy factions entered a ninth day of protest in Tahrir Square. Some held up their shoes as a show of disdain during a broadcast of Morsy's speech.
Meanwhile, Egyptians awaited a possible court ruling that could aggravate the conflict but otherwise have little practical impact.
Critics describe the proposed constitution, written by an Islamist-dominated assembly, as attempting to impose Islamic rule over Egypt.
Islamists of all stripes — from Morsy's Muslim Brotherhood to ultra-religious Salafis and the former terrorist group Gama'a Al Islamiya — massed in Cairo's Renaissance Square, in the seaport of Alexandria and elsewhere, in a show of force countering days of anti-Morsy protests.
Their numbers here were estimated as around 100,000.
Brotherhood officials said they moved the rally away from Tahrir Square to avoid bloodshed.
Its mostly-male demonstrators carried posters of Morsy, a former Brotherhood leader, and waved Egyptian and Saudi flags, the latter suggesting support for a hard-line view of Islam.
Chants of “Morsy, God is great, Morsy!” and “Islamic, Islamic!” resounded.
The few female demonstrators marched separately from the men. One veiled woman carried an open Quran in a show of piety.
“This is what the majority of the people want. We like Morsy, and we trust him,” said one long-bearded Salafi, Mahdi Askari. He accused Tahrir Square protesters of “hanky-panky. The majority of them don't like Islam, and they don't want to be ruled by Islam.”
Amin Muhammed, 50, a farmer, dismissed anti-Morsy forces as Mubarak holdovers. He said he joined the protest “to implement the Shariah (Islamic law) for Allah.”
Radwan Salam, 64, a retired businessman, said he joined the Islamist rally to oppose “corrupt” judges. Like others, he accused the media of encouraging “simple people” to oppose Morsy.
That appeared to be a theme, with some signs demanding “the cleansing of the media.”
Along with liberal Egyptians, Western human-rights groups have criticized the proposed constitution. Amnesty International said it “falls well short of protecting human rights … ignores the rights of women, restricts freedom of expression in the name of protecting religion, and allows for the military trials of civilians.”
No concern for those issues was voiced at the Islamist rally, however.
Sameh Talat, a tour operator, said Morsy will “make everything better” and predicted voter approval of the constitution because “we are the majority.”
Fellow protester Ahmed Gouda, a physician, said he thought it will be “a basis for constitutions all over the Middle East.”
And Rifai Abdel Rizaq, 50, a business consultant, said Morsy is trying “to prevent chaos … he will never oppress the people.”
One exuberant Islamist protester walked past rows of buses that carried supporters to the rally, shouting: “Coming, coming, oh Islam!”
The Supreme Constitutional Court was expected to dissolve the constitutional assembly — as it previously dissolved the Islamist-controlled lower house of parliament over electoral irregularities — in a ruling today. Since Morsy has set himself above the courts, any ruling is likely to go unenforced.
Morsy earlier warned the court not to dissolve the upper house of parliament in any ruling.
Betsy Hiel is the Tribune-Review's foreign correspondent. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.