Egypt opposition prepares for Tuesday rallies against Morsi decree
Parties, groups from across Egypt's political opposition plan for nationwide demonstrations to protest President Morsi's divisive constitutional declaration
Zeinab El Gundy , Monday 26 Nov 2012
Opposition parties and groups have called for mass rallies and 'million-man' marches on Tuesday in protest at the recent presidential constitutional declaration. A sit-in has been ongoing in Tahrir Square since Friday, in protest at President Mohamed Morsi's Thursday declaration which "gives the president Pharaoh-like powers,” according to protesters.
The Muslim Brotherhood had called on its supporters to protest tomorrow in support of the declaration, which renders Morsi's decisions immune from legal challenge for the next six months, and protects the Islamist-led Constituent Assembly, tasked with drafting a new constitution, from dissolution by court order. However, late on Monday night, it was reported that the Brotherhood had cancelled all protests planned for Tuesday by their supporters.
Political parties and movements opposed to the declaration held a press conference on Monday at the headquarters of the Socialist Popular Alliance Party in Downtown Cairo to publicise plans for Tuesday's rallies and protests.
Haitham Mohamedeen of the Revolutionary Socialists read the statement issued by the coalition of groups, which stated that Morsi and the Ministry of Interior are responsible for the recent deaths of two teenage protesters, Islam Masoud and Gaber 'Jika' Salah.
Salah, a 16-year-old member of the 6 April Youth Movement, was seriously injured in clashes in Mohamed Mahmoud Street last week prior to the announcement of the constitutional declaration, and later died of his injuries. Masoud, 15, was reportedly a Muslim Brotherhood supporter, and was killed in recent fighting between Muslim Brotherhood supporters and opponents in the Nile Delta city of Damanhour.
"The statement issued by the presidency last night was not acceptable. It did not present anything new concerning the clear demand by national and revolutionary political powers to cancel the constitutional declaration," read the groups' statement.
The parties are demanding that Morsi cancels the declaration, puts in place a serious project for ensuring transitional justice which will guarantee the rights of the slain protesters, and gets rid of exceptional laws which restrict freedoms – particularly the recent 'protecting the revolution' law that was widely criticised by liberal and opposition figures.
The parties are also calling for a restructuring and purging of the ministry of interior, and for reselecting the members of the Constituent Assembly in a way that assures proper representation of Egyptian society and political dynamics.
Mohamed Abdel Aziz of the Egyptian Popular Current stated that there would be three major rallies in Cairo and Giza that will head to central Tahrir Square on Tuesday.
"There will be rallies from Mostafa Mahmoud Mosque in Mohandeseen, from El-Fatah Mosque in Giza Square and from Shubra roundabout, which will head to Tahrir at 5pm."
There will be two further marches to Tahrir in the afternoon; one from the lawyers syndicate and the other from the journalists' syndicate, at 1pm local time.
Similar rallies will be organised in various other governorates, including Alexandria, Fayoum, Kafr El-Sheikh, Sohag, Damietta and Sharm El-Sheikh.
The political groups participating in the rallies against the constitutional declaration include the Egyptian Popular Current, the Constitution Party, the Socialist Popular Alliance Party, the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, the Karama Party, the Free Egyptians Party, the Freedom Egypt Party, the Revolutionary Socialists movement, the National Front for Justice and Democracy, the Maspero Youth Union, the "Ahmed Maher Front and Democratic Front", part of the April 6 Youth Movement, the Youth for Justice and Freedom Movement, the Free Egyptian Movement, the National Association for Change, the Kifeya Movement, the Free Front for Peaceful Change and the Lotus Revolution movement
There have been a series of demonstrations and rallies organised by the Brotherhood since last Thursday, in solidarity with President Morsi's constitutional declaration.
Spokesmen for the president and for the Muslim Brotherhood insist that the powers conferred by the decree are temporary.
Meanwhile, the Strong Egypt Party, founded by moderate Islamist and former Brotherhood leader Abdel-Moneim Abul-Fotouh, announced an initiative to end the tensions, demanding the president amend the declaration and initiate a process of national dialogue.
The party also called on all groups to avoid escalations and not to participate in rallies, whether for or against the constitution declaration.
Following the deaths of Salah and Massoud, as well the ongoing clashes that have continued for days between protesters and Brotherhood supporters in several governorates, tensions are expected on Tuesday.
Cairo University has reportedly given students the day off on Tuesday, to avoid any potential clashes. Several businesses in Downtown Cairo will also take Tuesday off.
The minister of education has, however, denied reports that schools will close on Tuesday.
At time of publication, a meeting was ongoing between the president and senior members of Egypt's Supreme Judicial Council, to look at possible solutions to the crisis. Judges have been among the most vocal opponents of Thursday's decree, arguing that it threatens judicial independence.