Egypt opposition to protest after deadly week

Thu Jan 31, 2013 6:26pm EST
 

By Yasmine Saleh and Tom Perry

CAIRO (Reuters) - Opponents of Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi have called mass demonstrations on Friday, raising the prospect of more bloodshed despite a pledge by politicians to back off after the deadliest week of his seven months in office.

Protests marking the second anniversary of the uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak have killed nearly 60 people since January 25. It prompted the head of the army - the institution that effectively ran Egypt for six decades until Mursi's election - to warn that the state was on the verge of collapse.

The country's most influential Islamic scholar hauled in rival political leaders for crisis talks on Thursday and persuaded them to sign up to a charter disavowing violence and committing to dialogue as a way to end the crisis.

But barely had those talks ended at a mediaeval university, when Mursi's foes called for new nationwide protests, including a march on the presidential palace in Cairo, which his followers see as a provocative assault on a symbol of his legitimacy.

"We are going out tomorrow, to Tahrir, and there is a group going to the palace," said Ahmed Maher, a founder of the April 6 youth protest movement which helped bring down Mubarak in 2011.

"We also confirm our peacefulness and that weapons must not be used, because we see that violence, weapons and molotovs have cost us a lot," he added after attending the talks.

The protesters accuse Mursi of betraying the spirit of the revolution by concentrating too much power in his own hands and those of the Muslim Brotherhood, a decades-old Islamist movement banned under Mubarak.

The Brotherhood accuses Mursi's opponents of trying to bring down Egypt's first democratically elected leader and use street unrest to seize power they could not win through the ballot box.   Continued...

 
Protesters opposing Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi surround a burnt riot police vehicle after protesters seized it from the Qasr al-Nile bridge during previous clashes with riot police at Tahrir Square in Cairo January 31, 2013. Opponents of Mursi have called mass demonstrations on Friday, raising the prospect of more bloodshed despite a pledge by politicians to back off after the deadliest week of his seven months in office. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh