Violent clashes possible as Islamists plan 'massive' counter-demonstrations

Ahmed Eleiba , Wednesday 5 Dec 2012

Leading FJP member rejects compromise solutions, says Islamist forces are to hold counter-demonstrations Wednesday afternoon and Friday, shrugging off potential confrontation with anti-Morsi protesters

Nahdet Misr
Supporters of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi chant pro-Morsi slogans during a rally in the vicinity of Cairo University and Nahdet Misr Square in Giza, on the outskirts of Cairo December 1, 2012. (Photo: Reuters)

Despite massive anti-Morsi, anti-Muslim Brotherhood demonstrations on Tuesday, the Muslim Brotherhood and its political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), say they are determined to "stay the course" in upholding President Mohamed Morsi’s contentious constitutional declaration, and by holding the referendum on the no-less contentious draft constitution as scheduled on 15 December, a leading member of the FJP told Ahram Online.

The leading FJP member also revealed that the group and its Islamist allies are to hold "massive" demonstrations in support of the president in front of the presidential palace in Cairo’s Heliopolis district at 4pm on Wednesday. Later on Wednesday, official Muslim Brotherhood spokesperson Mahmoud Ghozlan made an official statement confirming the decision to demonstrate.

On Tuesday, the presidential palace was besieged by hundreds of thousands of anti-Morsi protesters, some of whom are still holding a sit-in. In turn, several political parties and groups, including the Constitution Party and the National Association for Change, as well as independent activists on Twitter, were calling on people to head to the presidential palace to protect the ongoing sit-in from any potential assault. Shahinda Maqlid, an older, well-known leftist activist, is organising a women's march from Heliopolis Club, in the vicinity of the palace, to the sit-in in order to protect it.

The FJP source shrugged off the possibility of clashes between Morsi’s loyalists and the dozens of protesters who have been holding a sit-in front of the presidential palace since Tuesday night. It was unclear, however, whether the Islamist group did not believe that such clashes might actually take place, or if they were unconcerned that they might. "Let what may happen, happen," the FJP source told Ahram Online.

The source also confirmed that the FJP would take part in pro-Morsi demonstrations on Friday, which had been announced late Tuesday night by Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya, following a meeting of Islamist political forces at the Muslim Brotherhood’s headquarters in Cairo’s Muqatam district.

The recently formed opposition coalition group the National Salvation Front, for its part, had called for a new round of demonstrations, both in iconic Tahrir Square and in front of the presidential palace for what they have named "Red Card Friday." The Muslim Brotherhood and its Islamist allies’ choice of the same day for counter-demonstrations seems to further underline the possibility that the group, from which President Morsi hails, is no longer concerned about avoiding potentially bloody clashes between loyalist and opposition protesters, both of whom have proven capable of bringing tens, even hundreds of thousands onto the streets.

Asked about the various compromise formulas offered by the opposition and third parties with a view to staving off just such a potentially destructive confrontation between the two sides, the FJP leading member said emphatically that "there will be no point of return." He went on to charge that "a political conspiracy was being hatched by the leaders of the opposition against the legitimate president of the country."

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