Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Protesters Fill Tahrir as Egypt's President Morsi Stands Firm (+Video)

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Protesters Fill Tahrir as Egypt's President Morsi Stands Firm (+Video)

Article excerpt

Tens of thousands of Egyptians packed into Cairo's Tahrir Square today to protest a move by President Mohamed Morsi to remove most checks on his power.

In other cities, protesters clashed with the president's supporters, and broke into or set fire to the local headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood or its political party, the Freedom and Justice Party, in at least three cities.

The Tahrir demonstrations, the biggest since President Morsi took office, were a powerful rejection of the president's decision to sideline the judiciary, which had remained nearly the only check on his power. He already holds both executive and legislative authority.

"This decision is unjust. It makes Morsi into another dictator," says Rabab el Khatib, a doctoral student in economics, in Tahrir. She said the large turnout would force Morsi to retract the decision. "The Muslim Brotherhood must know that they are not the only ones in Egypt," she says, referring to the Islamist movement Morsi hails from. "The Egyptian people are much more than the Brotherhood. We are here, and we are strong, and we will not accept this decision."

Morsi has signaled that he won't back down, with a presidential spokesman insisting to reporters that the president's new powers are temporary and necessary to allow a constitution to be written and a parliament election.

Demonstrators reveled in the fact that they had achieved such high turnout without Islamist participation. Since Mubarak's fall, protests that do not include the Muslim Brotherhood have struggled to match the turnout of those promoted by the highly organized group. Tonight, vendors sold roasted sweet potatoes and koshari, an Egyptian pasta dish, to the crowds that included men, women, and children from across the spectrum of Egyptian society. Some said the protest reminded them of the days of the uprising that ousted former President Hosni Mubarak in February 2011.

Protesters repeated the same chant that became famous during those protests: "The people want the fall of the regime. …

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