Presidential decree sparks protests, clashes in Egypt

CAIRO -- Clashes broke out in front of the presidential palace in Cairo over a “pharaoh decree” of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi on Friday.


Several offices of the Muslim Brotherhood party were set on fire across Egypt on Friday.

The opposition has accused the president of “delivering a blow to legitimacy” and “making himself a new pharaoh” after he decided to pass the decree which granted him extensive power.

According to the decree, the president’s decision cannot be questioned by any state organ, including judiciary. Morsi’s supporters say that the Egyptian revolution will this way be protected.

However, opposition leaders, including Mohamed ElBaradei and Amr Moussa, have condemned the move and called on Egyptians “to protest at all squares in Egypt on Friday”.

Thousands of people flocked to Cairo’s Tahrir Square but police threw teargas at them.

“Morsi is Mubarak! Revolution,” chanted the protesters. Some of them were injured in clashes with the police and Morsi’s supporters.

The police stepped up security measures in Cairo last night, especially around state institutions, including parliament and Interior Ministry headquarters.

Morsi’s supporters gathered in front of the presidential palace on Friday. The president addressed them by saying that “the nation faces bright future” and that he would like to have a “real, strong opposition” against him.

AP reports, quoting Egyptian state TV, that the protesters set fire to the Muslim Brotherhood offices in Suez, Port Said and Ismailia.

Clashes also broke out in Alexandria, Assiut and Giza.

According to AP, Morsi’s opponents threw rocks at the Muslim Brotherhood supporters in front of a mosque in Alexandria and stormed the party offices.

Wael Ghonim, an icon of the anti-Mubarak uprising, said that “the revolution was not staged in search for a benign dictator, there is a difference between revolutionary decisions and dictatorial decisions. God is the only one whose decisions are not questioned."

ElBaradei said earlier that the decree would “put the president above the law”.

In accordance with the presidential decision, the state prosecutor has been sacked and retrials of Mubarak-era officials have been ordered. According to the document, no judiciary body can dissolve the Egyptian parliament which is currently working on a new Constitution. Islamists have the majority in parliament.