x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

'Million-man' march against Egyptian president sees minor clashes

The protests were called for by critics of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist group where Mohammed Morsi had been a senior member before resigning to become president.

CAIRO // Despite calls for a "million-man march" against the widening powers of Egypt's new president, only a few hundred people turned out in public squares yesterday to chant against Mohammed Morsi.

There were reports of clashes between protesters and pro-Muslim Brotherhood groups on Talaat Harb Street, near Tahrir Square - the epicentre of last year's uprising that toppled the regime of Hosni Mubarak, but no injuries were reported.

The protests were called for by critics of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist group where Mr Morsi had been a senior member before resigning to become president.

He is still seen as closely allied to the Brotherhood and appointed five of its members to his cabinet.

Some demonstrators yesterday chanted in Tahrir Square: "What does the [Brotherhood's] guide want? He wants everyone to kiss his feet," according to Reuters.

The reference to "guide", or murshed, refers to the spiritual leader of the group, who is highly influential but not an elected official.

Since his inauguration on June 30, Mr Morsi has consolidated power under the presidency by cancelling a constitutional addendum that had limited his abilities and replacing several senior military leaders through forced retirements. He has also presided over a crackdown on the media, targeting an editor and television presenter who had been harshly critical of the Brotherhood's power grabs.

Several liberal groups, including the April 6 Movement that played an important role in the Tahrir protests against Mubarak last year and has been a consistent critic of the Brotherhood in the past, did not attend yesterday's demonstrations.

The group said on its Facebook page it disagreed with the Brotherhood on some of its policies, but that it would wait to give Mr Morsi more time to prove whether he is a capable leader of Egypt.

 

bhope@thenational.ae

* With additional reporting by Reuters