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America criticized for attitude on Egypt's Morsy

| Friday, Nov. 30, 2012, 7:46 p.m.
Protesters gather in Tahrir Square in Cairo November 30, 2012. Thousands of Egyptians protested against President Mohamed Morsy after an Islamist-led assembly raced through approval of a new constitution in a bid to end a crisis over the Islamist leader's newly expanded powers. Reuters | Asmaa Waguih
Egyptians gather in front of a banner in Arabic that reads, 'members of the Muslim Brotherhood are not allowed,' during a demonstration in Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Nov. 30, 2012. Liberal and secular parties held major protests against Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi's latest decrees granting himself almost complete powers. AP photo | Nariman El-Mofty
Egyptians attend a demonstration in Tahrir Square, Cairo, Friday, Nov. 30, 2012. Liberal and secular parties held major protests against Egyptian President Mohammed Morsy's latest decrees granting himself almost complete powers. AP
REUTERS
People stand near graffiti depicting a Smiley on a concrete road block built by Egyptian armed forces, as police vehicles are parked nearby, in Tahrir Square in Cairo November 30, 2012. Thousands of Egyptians protested against President Mohamed Mursi on Friday after an Islamist-led assembly raced through approval of a new constitution in a bid to end a crisis over the Islamist leader's newly expanded powers. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany (EGYPT - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)

CAIRO — Some Egyptian liberals accuse Washington of provoking a weeklong political crisis here by backing President Mohamed Morsy and his ruling Muslim Brotherhood.

America is “breeding a monster that they will not be able to control,” said Fatima Metwali, a protester in the capital's Tahrir Square.

The Obama administration has been seen as complimentary of Morsy, particularly in its praise of him for helping broker a cease-fire between Israel and the Palestinians.

Protests and clashes with police erupted last week after Morsy assumed near-absolute power.

On Friday, a constitutional assembly dominated by the Brotherhood approved a document that will be put to a referendum within weeks.

Morsy has threatened to retain his sweeping powers if it is rejected.

Liberal Egyptians and Western human rights advocates say the new constitution restricts individual liberties and increases religious influence.

The Brotherhood has called for pro-Morsy marches on Saturday.

A growing number of Egyptians accuse the Obama administration of backing Morsy and refusing to condemn his actions.

“The people hate the Muslim Brotherhood; they have no popularity, and (the future) will be lost for the Americans,” said protester Mona Demerdash.

Muhammed Own, 29, a businessman in Tahrir Square, called Morsy a “devil's advocate.”

“Look at how the constitution is being written and sold to the people,” Own said. “If people say yes to his constitution, he will give up his new powers. If people say no, he keeps them.

“We are choosing between two very bad things.”

Protesters have vowed to remain in Tahrir Square, as many did during the 2011 uprising that ousted dictator Hosni Mubarak. They have attracted support from some of Egypt's leading political and cultural figures.

Tarek Heggy, a liberal author and petroleum strategist, said he joined the Tahrir Square protest to help in “recovering Egypt” from the Brotherhood.

He described the unrest as a “snowball” gathering downhill momentum.

“I am confident we are in a revolt,” said Heggy. “Anything related to this constitution, for me, is poisoned.”

Heggy predicts Egypt “will recover eventually, but a price will be paid.”

Own said Morsy's power grab threatens Egypt's flat-lined economy. He likened the situation to “driving a car with no brakes (and) a brick wall is right in front of us.”

Nebal Osman, waving Egyptian flags in the square with her three daughters, said: “We are all Muslim, but we don't want Morsy.”

Nearby, young protesters sang: “Morsy is finished, he has lost his way. The revolution has returned, take a picture, Morsy.”

Magdi Negm, 59, stood watching with his daughter. He said Morsy has divided the country, adding: “(We) must be worried ... that there could be blood.”

Anonymous, the international computer hacking group, threatened to wage cyber attacks on Brotherhood websites. The Brotherhood's Twitter account conceded it is under “heavy cyber attacks, silencing us in the name of ‘defending democracy.'”

Betsy Hiel is the Tribune-Review'sforeign correspondent. Email herat bhiel@tribweb.com.

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