Thousands of opponents of Egypt’s President Mursi have taken to the streets in protest against his special decree.
In scenes reminiscent of the country’s revolution which toppled Hosni Mubarak last year, the demonstration has exposed a deep divide between the newly empowered Muslim Brotherhood and their opponents, who claim Mursi’s new powers could herald a new era of autocracy.
Mursi has assured Egypt’s highest judicial authority that elements of the decree giving his decisions immunity would apply only to matters of “sovereign” importance. But there has been no retreat on other elements of the decree, including a stipulation that the Islamist-dominated body writing a new constitution be protected from legal challenge.
One man told euronews: “We’re here to put pressure, to have this new constitutional declaration cancelled. Mursi has made himself a new pharoah. He’s ignored the outcome of the revolution. This is about him, his party and the Salafists.”
“We want to live in peace, in security and have freedom. This is all we want, nothing more,” said another man.
Although Mursi’s supporters called off their planned rally fearing violence, clashes erupted as police fought with demonstrators off Cairo’s Tahrir Square.
A 52-year-old man reportedly died after inhaling tear gas fired by police, the second fatality since the protests began.
Our correspondent in the Egyptian capital, Mohammed Shaikibrahim says: “After the revolution , its not easy for the president to make any declaration without the approval of the Egyptian people, as this protest shows.”
“The people are calling for the new decree to be cancelled and demanding the president respect the result of the revolution as they feel his latest move has revived politics of the past, but with different faces,” he added.