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Morsy: No reason for early elections

| Friday, June 7, 2013, 10:00 p.m.

CAIRO — Egypt's embattled president on Friday dismissed calls for early presidential elections as clashes erupted in a northern Egyptian city and unidentified assailants torched a Cairo campaign headquarters of a youth group petitioning for Mohammed Morsy's removal from office.

In the southern city of Luxor, a Muslim cleric caused uproar during Friday prayers when he described the youth group as “devils,” prompting security forces to intervene to prevent clashes inside the mosque after worshippers erupted in protest against the preacher, witnesses said.

The developments occur as tensions rise ahead of June 30, when Morsy marks one year in power as Egypt's first freely elected president following the 2011 uprising that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

Clashes erupted Friday evening in downtown Cairo between security forces and members of the Black Block, a group of young masked men opposed to president Morsy's rule. Protesters hurled stones at the Central Security forces who fired back tear gas, according to the MENA State news agency.

Violence has become a common feature of politics in Egypt. Over the last two years, several marches and rallies by the country's various camps have deteriorated into street battles.

In a four-page interview with the state-run Al-Ahram daily ahead of the anniversary, Morsy said demands for an early presidential vote are both “absurd and illegal.”

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