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Morsi edicts spur violence

11-26-2012 10:26 BJT

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Protests erupted across Egypt on Friday, as opponents of President Mohammed Morsi clashed with his supporters over a presidential edict that gave him unchecked authority and polarized an already divided nation.

Egyptian protesters hurl stones at riot police during clashes near the US Embassy in Cairo,
Egypt, Nov. 25, 2012. (Xinhua/STR)

In an echo of the uprising 22 months ago, thousands of protesters chanted for the downfall of Morsi's government in Cairo, while others ransacked the offices of the president's former party in Suez, Alexandria and other cities.

Morsi spoke to his supporters in front of the presidential palace in Cairo, imploring the public to trust his intentions as he cast himself as a protector of the revolution and a fledgling democracy.

In a speech that was by turns defensive and conciliatory, he gave no ground to the critics who were describing him as a pharaoh, in another echo of the insult once reserved for the deposed president, Hosni Mubarak.

"God's will and elections made me the captain of this ship," Morsi said.

The battles that raged Friday — over power, legitimacy and the mantle of the revolution — posed a challenge not only to Morsi but also to his opponents, members of secular, leftist and liberal groups whose crippling divisions have stifled their agenda and left them unable to confront the more popular Islamist movement led by the Muslim Brotherhood.

The crisis over his power grab came just days after the Islamist leader won international praise for his pragmatism, including from the United States, for brokering a cease-fire between Hamas and Israel.

An Egyptian protester hurls stones at riot police during clashes near the US Embassy in Cairo,
Egypt, Nov. 25, 2012. (Xinhua/STR)

Egyptian protesters hurl stones at riot police during clashes near the US Embassy in Cairo,
Egypt, Nov. 25, 2012. (Xinhua/STR)

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