ShareThis Page

Egyptians rally, make demands of Morsy

| Friday, Dec. 7, 2012, 6:51 p.m.
An Egyptian protester chants anti-Muslim Brotherhood slogans during a demonstration in front of the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Dec. 7, 2012. Egypt's political crisis spiraled deeper into bitterness and recrimination on Friday as large crowds of the Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi's opponents marched to his palace to increase pressure after he rejected their demands. (AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty)
Muslim Brotherhood and Egyptian President Morsi supporters carry a body of one of six victims who were killed during Wednesday's clashes during their funeral outside Al Azhar mosque, the highest Islamic Sunni institution, Friday, Dec. 7, 2012. During the funeral, thousands Islamist mourners chanted, 'with blood and soul, we redeem Islam,' pumping their fists in the air. 'Egypt is Islamic, it will not be secular, it will not be liberal,' they chanted as they walked in a funeral procession that filled streets around Al-Azhar mosque. Thousands of Egyptians took to the streets after Friday midday prayers in rival rallies and marches across Cairo, as the standoff deepened over what opponents call the Islamist president's power grab, raising the specter of more violence. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

CAIRO — Hundreds of thousands of Egyptians ignored President Mohamed Morsy's televised appeal for calm and instead took the polarized country into a third week of unrest.

In the capital, they pushed past razor wire and concrete barriers to reach the presidential palace gates for a third day.

There they demanded that Morsy abandon his push for a constitution they say would impose Islamic rule or that he resign from the office he won in June.

Watching the huge crowd were troops in tanks and with the army's elite Republican Guard. The Republican Guard deployed around the palace on Thursday during violence between pro- and anti-Morsy factions that killed six people and wounded more than 700.

One protester, businessman Adel Tarakdjian, 57, said Morsy is “turning into an absolute dictator. He is stubborn and is defying the will of the people.”

Morsy on Thursday called for opposition leaders to meet with him on Saturday in an attempt to end the unrest that has entered a third week.

After the previous day's bloody street battles, the opposition seemed in no mood to talk.

Led by Nobel laureate and former United Nations diplomat Mohamed el-Baradei, the anti-Morsy Salvation Front coalition vowed not to negotiate until Morsy rescinds a Nov. 22 decree claiming near-absolute power. It also demanded that a Dec. 15 constitutional referendum be postponed or scrapped in favor of writing an acceptable alternative.

El-Baradei said that “the door for dialogue” is closed.

Suha Abdelazziz, 25, an accountant, said she listened to Morsy's speech and was not impressed.

“It wasn't directed at the Egyptian people. It was directed to the Muslim Brotherhood,” she said.

Morsy is a former leader of the Islamic-based Brotherhood; its political wing, the Freedom and Justice Party, controls parliament.

As long lines of protesters marched into Heliopolis, an upscale neighborhood where the presidential palace is located, they chanted, “Bread, freedom and we want it civil!” and “Leave, leave!”

In the all-out battle for Egypt's soul, both sides are portraying the other in derogatory terms.

At the palace, one man held aloft a stuffed sheep to symbolize Brotherhood members blindly following orders.

At Al Azhar mosque, Egypt's leading Islamic institution, Islamists mourned two Brotherhood members killed in earlier clashes. The mood was angry, with chants for revenge and “With our blood, with our spirit, we will sacrifice for you, oh Islam!”

One hard-line cleric denounced anti-Morsy forces as “traitors” and “a den of hash smokers.”

Many of the Islamists accused Egypt's media of bias. Their ultra-religious Salafi allies staged a protest outside the offices of independent television stations.

“We need to cleanse the media,” said Huweida Ghaneim, 35, who wore a black face veil. An engineering graduate of American University in Cairo, she said Egypt “will be an Islamic state. Egypt is not divided – it's 95 percent with the Islamists, and 5 percent is negligible.”

Ashraf Ahmed, 34, an accountant and Brotherhood member, demanded “revenge for the blood that was lost.” He repeated now-familiar Brotherhood calls to “cleanse the media” and to rid the country of “failed presidential candidates” and remnants of the ousted regime of former President Hosni Mubarak.

Ali Abdu Khalaf, who works in nearby Khan El Khaili bazaar, was not so sure. “I don't know who is right or who is wrong,” he said.

In the large industrial city of Mahalla, protesters reportedly forced out a Brotherhood member who headed the local council and declared autonomy from “the Brotherhood state.”

“President Morsy had a choice to either bring the country together or tear it apart,” said Nadine Sherif of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, one of many here who warn of escalating violence. “It seems clear that he has made his decision and civil war seems to be looming.”

Betsy Hiel is the Tribune-Review's foreign correspondent.Email her at

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using 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.