Morsi opponents pile up pressure on streets

Morsi opponents pile up pressure on streets

CAIRO - The Associated Press
Morsi opponents pile up pressure on streets

An anti-Morsi protester runs to throw a tear gas canister back at Tahrir Square. REUTERS photo

Thousands flocked to Cairo’s central Tahrir square yesterday for a protest against Egypt’s president in a significant test of whether the opposition can rally the street behind it in a confrontation aimed at forcing him to rescind decrees that granted him near absolute powers.

Chanting slogans against President Mohamed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood, the protesters joined several hundreds who have been camping out at the square since last week demanding the decrees be revoked.

‘Brotherhood stole the country’
Clashes erupted nearby between several hundred young protesters throwing stones and police firing tear gas on a street off Tahrir leading to the U.S. Embassy. The president’s declaration last week of new powers for himself has energized and, to a degree unified, the mostly liberal and secular opposition. A new banner in the square proclaimed, “The Brotherhood stole the country” and one protester, Mahmoud Youssef, said: “We are here to bring down the constitutional declaration issued by Morsi.” Many chanted the iconic slogans “the people want to bring down the regime.”

Several thousand lawyers meanwhile gathered outside their union building in downtown Cairo ahead of their march to Tahrir to join protesters there. “Leave, leave,” they chanted, addressing Morsi, who narrowly won elections in June to become the country’s first freely elected civilian president.

In the Mediterranean city of Alexandria, some 3,000 anti-Morsi protesters gathered outside the main court at the center of the ancient city. Morsi’s supporters canceled a massive rally they had planned for yesterday, citing the need to “defuse tension” after a series of clashes between the two camps since the decrees were issued Nov. 22.