Egypt’s Mursi defies protesters, pushes on with referendum



Haitham El-Tabei | AFP

Published — Friday 7 December 2012

Last update 7 December 2012 8:22 pm

| نسخة PDF Print News | A A

CAIRO: Egypt’s Islamist President Muhammad Mursi rejected calls to curb his sweeping powers or suspend proposed changes to the constitution, infuriating thousands of protesters who have clashed bloodily with his supporters in recent days.
In an address broadcast live on Thursday, Mursi vowed to push on with a December 15 referendum on the controversial new constitution, saying “afterwards, there should be no obstacle and everyone must follow its will.”
As he was wrapping up his speech, protesters stormed the Cairo villa housing the headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood which backed him for the presidency.
“Two hundred thugs went to the headquarters. Security tried to prevent them, but some got through the back door, ransacked it and set it on fire,” Brotherhood spokesman Mahmud Ghozlan said.
Police outside the three-story building said it was a limited blaze and that riot officers had pushed demonstrators back.
An AFP correspondent at the scene said there were fierce clashes between hundreds of stick-wielding protesters and police, who fired tear gas.
Seven people died in clashes between Mursi’s Islamist supporters and his mainly secular opponents on Wednesday in Egypt’s worst political crisis since Mursi took office in June. Another 644 people were injured, medical officials said.
The army on Thursday ordered the square in front of the presidential palace cleared of protesters from both sides, deploying tanks and setting up barbed wire.
In his speech, Mursi said more than 80 people had been arrested.
He railed against the “aggression,” implying the opposition protesters were to blame.
“Some attacked cars of the presidency, seriously injuring one of their drivers, who is still in hospital,” he said.
“We respect peaceful freedom of speech but I will never allow anyone to resort to killing and sabotage.”
Mursi offered to hold dialogue with the opposition and to meet their representatives on Saturday in his offices, but there was no immediate indication of compromise judging by his speech on Thursday.
But Hussein Abdel Ghani, spokesman for the opposition group the National Rescue Front, dismissed Mursi’s gesture, saying “the president lost a historic chance to act like a president for all Egypt.”
He added: “We will continue to escalate (protests), using peaceful means.”
The United States and European Union have called for dialogue to resolve the political crisis in Egypt.
US President Barack Obama expressed “deep concern” Thursday over the events in Egypt, in a call to his counterpart Mursi, the White House said.
Obama also told Mursi that it was “essential for Egyptian leaders across the political spectrum to put aside their differences and come together to agree on a path that will move Egypt forward,” the White House said in a statement.
The anti-Mursi camp is furious with Mursi for assuming sweeping powers two weeks ago and by what it feels was the railroading through by an Islamist-dominated panel of the draft constitution.
The violence in Cairo recalls scenes seen in the February 2011 uprising that toppled veteran strongman Hosni Mubarak.
Egypt’s top Islamic body, Al-Azhar, has called on Mursi to suspend his November 22 decree giving him powers critics say are as sweeping as Mubarak’s.
The opposition fears the Islamists are riding roughshod over civil, political and human rights and the rights of women.
“It’s the beginning of a religious state,” said Sahar Ali, a 39-year-old tour guide and Mursi opponent. “They’re trying to turn it into Iran, but we won’t let this happen. We got rid of the military — the Brotherhood is next.”
Four of Mursi’s advisers have quit over the crisis, the official MENA news agency reported, and the head of state television has also resigned, the independent newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm reported on its website.
The Cairo stock market took a heavy hit from the latest violence, with the EGX-30 index plunging 4.6 percent at the close.
The opposition says it will not stand down until Mursi surrenders his new powers — which put his decisions beyond judicial review — and until he cancels the referendum on the draft charter opposed by liberals and Christians.

What's happening around Saudi Arabia

JEDDAH: Two members of a Ministry of Health ambulance crew, including a doctor, were killed when their vehicle overturned along a highway in Madinah region on Tuesday, an online site reported.The driver also died and a nurse suffered injuries, 3alyou...
RIYADH: Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman briefed the Cabinet, on Monday, about the message he sent to the Kuwaiti emir and the messages he received from the Moroccan king and the Qatari emir.The king also spoke about the outcome of his m...
RIYADH: The Eastern Mediterranean Office (EMRO) of the World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday announced that the region is considered a Zika virus-free zone.Dr. Alaa Alwan, the regional director of EMRO, said that it does not mean that Middle East...
JEDDAH: The Saudi Health Council is working to establish an electronic system to prevent manipulation of sick leave holidays.Dr. Yaqoob Al-Mazrouh, secretary-general of the council, disclosed this during a seminar on Sunday. He did not elaborate on h...
RIYADH: Specialized Clinics Arabia (SCA) treated a total of 9,220 Syrians at the Zaatari Refugee Camp in Jordan during the month of January 2016, according to Dr. Hamid Mufalana, SCA medical director.“Many of the patients were children who were given...
JEDDAH: The Jeddah police have solved the mystery surrounding the thrashing of a man by another, the video clip of which had gone viral.It was a Herculean task for the police to search for the victim, who had not bothered to lodge any complaint. The...
JEDDAH: The Cutoms Department at Yanbu’s Prince Abdul Mohsen bin Abdul Aziz Airport recently foiled an attempt to smuggle 64,165 Captagon pills found hidden in four boxes.Saad Al-Buqami, director-general of Customs at the Airport, said: “During our c...
AL-AHSA: Plans are afoot to turn the Al-Ahsa dates festival into an international event by adopting top standards in the manufacture, packaging and marketing of the product, Adel Al-Mulhim, the general supervisor of the festival, has said.Speaking du...
RIYADH: A gang comprising two women and youth has been arrested for allegedly looting cash from pharmacies and snatching women’s handbags in malls.Col. Fawaz bin Jameel Al-Maiman, police media spokesman of the Riyadh region, said the arrests were mad...
RIYADH: Riyadh Gov. Prince Faisal bin Bandar on Sunday called for conservation of water and electricity, even as the Water and Electricity minister said Saudi Arabia will need an investment of SR500 billion for power projects over the next 10 years t...
RIYADH: More than 200,000 people accused of various crimes were investigated by the Bureau of Investigation and Public Prosecution (BIPP) in the financial year of 1435-1436 A.H.Among the 218,000 who were investigated, around 30 percent or 65,000 were...
RIYADH: Thousands of Saudis have visited the German pavilion at the Janadriyah festival since it was opened by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman last week, in the presence of German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and German Amba...
DAMMAM: The cold wave in many parts of the Kingdom over the last week caused a decline of between 30 percent and 50 percent in farm production. This decline in turn drove prices of agricultural products at wholesale markets up by 30 percent.Farmers s...
RIYADH: The Ministry of Commerce and Industry warned on Monday that heating devices should have a voltage of 220 volts with a capacity not exceeding 2,500 watts.The announcement was made when MCI inspectors seized more than 3,000 substandard heating...
ALKHOBAR: Nearly 100 leading figures in the government and private institutions have completed training programs specializing in integrity and anti-corruption provided by the Saafah Foundation for Good Example in Riyadh, Jeddah and Alkhobar.The secre...

Stay Connected

Facebook