Protesters Take Demands to Morsi’s Doorstep
Tens of thousands of protesters coalesced around the presidential palace and in Tahrir Square in Cairo on December 4. The demonstrations were held by opponents of President Mohammed Morsi’s presidential decree and his move for a referendum on the draft constitution, which they believe opens the door for a full blown theocracy. As Morsi left the compound his motorcade was met with jeers and insults, while protesters received volleys of tear gas from riot police. Some damage was inflicted to the perimeter of the palace, but police reportedly showed restraint when dealing with the crowd. Independent print and television media outlets participated in a media blackout in protest of the constitution’s wording, which they believe will lead to limits on freedom of speech and expression.
Anti-Morsi protesters remain camped outside the palace as of December 5 and more demonstrators have been called for. Meanwhile, the Muslim Brotherhood called on pro-Morsi groups to turn out for counter-protests in support of the decree and the draft constitution. Most recent reports indicate however, that the Brotherhood is dealing with a fire set to their headquarters in Ismailia. Following a meeting at the NATO headquarters in Brussels, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton answered press questions regarding Egypt and her thoughts on the constitution’s potential for “[rolling] back the rights of women, religious minorities, freedom of speech, and the press.” Secretary Clinton responded that the “upheaval…in the streets of Cairo…indicates that dialogue is urgently needed.” She added, “the Egyptian people – deserve a constitution that protects the rights of all Egyptians” and “a constitutional process that is open, transparent, and fair and does not unduly favor one group over any other.”