Morsy fervor erupts; 2 dead
CAIRO — Clashes erupted across Egypt in advance of Sunday's planned nationwide demonstration against President Mohamed Morsy.
Just hours after Egyptian officials said an American had been killed on Friday in clashes between government supporters and opponents in the port city of Alexandria, the State Department said Americans should defer nonessential travel to the country. The U.S. Embassy will close Sunday and Monday.
The American was killed during fighting outside the Muslim Brotherhood office, the head of Alexandria security said. The American was taking pictures of the clashes and died of a stab wound.
Twodeaths and nearly 150 injuries were reported outside the capital, and protesters ransacked four offices of the ruling Muslim Brotherhood.
The world's most populous Arab nation — still considered a key U.S. ally — has been wracked by growing turmoil since Morsy won the presidency a year ago.
Opposition leaders hope to bring out millions of angry Egyptians to demand his resignation.
In Cairo, pro- and anti-Morsy protests sprang up Friday.
Tens of thousands gathered in the capital's Tahrir Square, chanting for Morsy to resign.
Thousands from the Brotherhood and its allies from another Islamist party, the Gama'a Islamiyya, demonstrated in a suburb.
New cement barriers surrounding presidential palace gates were covered with anti-Morsy graffiti. There, a small but vocal group waved red cards, similar to those used by a soccer referee to eject a player, with the message “Leave, oh sheep!” — an opposition reference to Brotherhood followers.
Young men stood on the barriers, waving boxer shorts imprinted with the word “Leave,” while others chanted against Morsy and the Brotherhood. Passing drivers honked car horns in support.
“Morsy has ruined the country … we are going backwards,” said bank accountant Ahmed Muhammed Ali, 24. He predicted Morsy supporters will turn violent on Sunday: “They always want blood and make problems.”
Journalist Muhammed Hani Al Aswany said he joined the gathering in Tahrir Square from the first day of the 2011 uprising that overthrew Morsy's predecessor, Hosni Mubarak. He returned there Friday because, he said, the revolution is unfinished.
“Egypt will be lit up until Morsy leaves,” he predicted.
“A revolution in the square, a revolution everywhere!” shouted a passing man.
“We see that Egypt is in the prison of the Brotherhood and terrorists,” said Muhammed Hassan, 67, a retired accountant. “We come here peacefully but if there is violence, then that is the price for freedom.”
Protesters erected tents at the palace and in the square, suggesting they plan to stay.
Anti-American messages were visible in Tahrir, too — placards with photos of U.S. Ambassador Anne Patterson, an “X” over her face, and a large sign declaring, “Obama supports terrorism.” Many Egyptian liberals believe the administration has been too supportive of the Brotherhood.
Bearded men armed with sticks guarded the entrance to the Islamists' rally. One man, Ismail Hussein, said he came from the Suez Canal city of Ismailiya to “protect democracy's base.”
Hussein, 43, an aviation engineer, said he belongs to no party but felt strongly about not allowing an elected president to be ousted.
He said violence would erupt only if “we are forced to defend ourselves and our president.” But he said “violence may be the price for our revolution.”
Lawyer Walyeddin El Masry came to the Islamist rally from the coastal city of Hurghada, where he belongs to the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, “to protect democracy.”
“But if anyone is against the democratic system and the elections, we will fight him and we will destroy him,” said El Masry, 37.
Other marchers carried posters of Morsy and shouted Islamic slogans.
Betsy Hiel is Trib Total Media's foreign correspondent. She can be reached at email@example.com.