Egyptian President Muhammed Morsi seems unshaken by the massive protests that shook Cairo on Tuesday night. He has shown no interest in retreating from his recent power grab and the Islamist group Muslim Brotherhood is planning to hold even larger pro-Morsi demonstrations on Friday.
It didn’t take long before it was almost impossible to get through Tahrir Square, in the heart of Cairo. People were streaming in from all sides. Hundreds of thousands responded on Tuesday to calls to demonstrate against Mohammed Morsi, Egpyt’s Islamist president, and his recent power grab. New decrees issued by Morsi grant him almost unassailable new powers and give his controversial constitutional assembly, dominated by Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood and its Islamist allies, virtual immunity as well.
Morsi has succeeded in driving his people back into Tahrir Square after only five months in office. But this time, though he remains Egypt’s first democratically elected president, demonstrators are marching in opposition to him rather than against deposed autocrat Hosni Mubarak. Teachers, lawyers and professors were among the protesters on Tuesday — many of them had not been back to the square since the February 2011 pro-democracy rallies that forced Mubarak out.
One man was carrying a poster bearing the image of a couch. The caption said “Ana Hisb al Kanabe,” or “I am the Sofa Party,” essentially shorthand for the silent majority. “But Morsi brings me back to the streets!” it said.
Today’s Egypt is deeply divided. Opposition activists are concerned that the Muslim Brotherhood is laying the groundwork for a new dictatorship, and the mood of rage and the angry slogans on Tuesday evening were reminiscent of last year’s revolution. “Down with the regime of the religious leader,” some were chanting. Others preferred a quote from Gamal Abdel Nasser, the country’s most famous former leader and staunch secularist: “One has no peace with the Muslim Brotherhood.” One protester could be heard shouting: “Beat it means go — or do you not understand that, Morsi?”
As such, the Muslim Brotherhood seems determined to pursue a course of confrontation. “The opposition thinks that the meaning of Tuesday lies in the number of protesters, 200,000 to 300,000,” one Brotherhood tweet said. “But it should brace itself for the millions who will take to the streets for the new president!” A new date has not been set for the Brotherhood’s demonstration, which had originally been planned for Tuesday.
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