Egypt braces for mass rallies after Mursi grabs sweeping powers


Egypt’s health and interior ministries were put on high alert on Friday as the country braced for mass rallies to protest against or support President Mohammed Mursi’s latest decrees that grant him sweeping powers.

Egypt’s ministry of interior has warned protesters not to clash with police and to keep their demonstration non-violent.

The ministry also urged protesters not to target and cause damage to public institutions, calling on “noble” Egyptian citizens to report on violent saboteurs and aggressors among protesting crowds.

However, clashes between police and protesters were reported near the Ministry of Interior in Cairo on Friday, Al Arabiya correspondent said, adding that hundreds of protesters were flocking to the capital’s Tahrir Square to demonstrate against Mursi’s new decrees.

Amid fears that rival protests might develop into bloody clashes, the health ministry deployed 45 ambulances in and around the iconic Tahrir square, where the major protests will be held, the ministry’s spokesman Ahmed Omar said.

On Thursday at least four people were injured after clashes between opponents of Mursi and members of the Musilm Brotherhood, who were celebrating Mursi’s decisions, in the northeastern province of Dakhalia.

The Muslim Brotherhood group ordered its members not to travel abroad as they might be needed to take on the streets to support “revolutionary” decisions, according to Egypt’s media sources.

A source told Anadolu Agency Thursday that the Muslim Brotherhood is in a state of alert and expected to start marches to defend “revolutionary” decisions that were expected to be made by Mursi.

Mursi became the chairman of the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) when it was founded by the Muslim Brotherhood in 2011. He was FJP’s candidate for the May-June 2012 presidential election.

The Islamist group’s state of alert is also to counter expected violence that can destabilize the political scene and oust President Mursi and his government, the sources added.

Political parties and citizens, who deemed Mursi’s new decree as flagrant violation of the constitution, vowed to take on the street in what they called “Eyes of Freedom” one-million protest on Friday.

Mursi on Thursday ordered a retrial of officials involved in protester killings during the 2011 revolution and sacked the current state prosecutor Abdel Maguid Mahmoud and appointed a replacement.

Egypt Judges Club Chairman Counselor Ahmad al-Zind told reporters that Mursi’s decree was “tragic” as it was “an assault on the independence of the judiciary.”

Mursi, a leading figure in the Muslim Brotherhood, became chairman of the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP). FJP was founded by the Muslim Brotherhood in the wake of the 2011 Egyptian revolution.

Meanwhile, a source in the president’s office told AFP that Mursi might give a speech later in the day defending his actions, but a final decision had yet to be taken.