CAIRO, December 7, 2012 - Violent street battles erupted between President Morsi’s opponents and supporters outside the Presidential Palace in Heliopolis – a north eastern suburb of Cairo- leading to seven deaths and more than 700 injures according to official records of the ministry of health.
During the last two weeks, Egypt has descended into political turmoil over the constitution drafted by Morsi’s ruling party. The draft constitution has split the country into two camps: Islamist and Liberal. Both camps agreed over the last two weeks to demonstrate “peacefully “in different squares of Egypt in order to prevent any dangerous confrontations. However, the ‘Itehadya Palace’ or the ‘Presidential Palace Incident’ is considered by most political analysts as the most violent, brutal and confusing confrontation since last year’s revolution.
Police forces guarding the surrounding area of the palace claimed that they were not expecting a violent clash. Eyewitnesses said that on Tuesday December 4, 2012, opponents of Morsi officially announced a peaceful march to the presidential palace, but approximately 300 protestors decided to camp outside the palace gates. Unfortunately, they were attacked by Morsi’s Islamist supporters who chased them away and tore down their tents, and violence escalated in the following hours. The central square was transformed into a war zone where both Liberals and Islamists used stones, knives, swords, bird shots and guns against each other. Morsi’s supporters chanted the slogan “Defending Morsi is defending Islam” and “we came to protect the legitimacy of the elected president.”
Meanwhile, Mohamed El Baradei, former presidential candidate and a leading advocate of reform, accused Morsi’s supporters of “vicious and deliberate attack against peaceful demonstrators.” He said, “we hold President Morsi and his government completely responsible for the violence that is happening in Egypt today. A regime that is not able to protect its people and is siding with his own sect is a regime that lost its legitimacy and is leading Egypt into violence and bloodshed.”
Opposition groups organized protests after Friday prayers aimed at the downfall of the regime. While Islamist supporters of Mursi called for a rally at the Media City Suburb of Cairo aimed at intimidating the liberal media, which they believe is the cause of turmoil.
The opposition National Salvation Front demands that President Morsi rescind decrees giving him near unrestricted powers and shelve the disputed draft constitution that was written by his allies.
Vice President Mahmoud Mekki spoke to the press and explained that disputed articles in the draft constitution could be amended if all parties agreed to establish a dialogue. Later, six members of the presidential advisory staff resigned over the crisis. In a broadcasted T.V. speech, President Morsi invited all political powers to participate in a national dialogue on Saturday.
Unfortunately, however, the angry opposition rejected this offer and shouted slogans such as “we won’t go, he will go”.
The supreme guide of Brotherhood Mohamed Badae called for unity saying ”divisions only serve the nation’s enemies,” as several headquarters of the brotherhood in different places of Egypt were burned.
The unrest in Egypt currently shows no signs of abating, with neither side willing to negotiate.
This unrest threatens stability not only in Egypt, but throughout the Middle East.
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