Egyptians Protest Morsi’s Power Grab
CAIRO – Two days ago, Egypt’s president, Mohammad Morsi, won widespread praise for brokering a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. But on Friday, thousands of Egyptians protested after Morsi granted himself broad new powers, putting his decisions above any court.
Morsi called the move temporary, but at least 100 people were injured as protesters clashed with security police in cities across Egypt– including Alexandria and the capital.
Thousands of Egyptians poured on to the streets, furious with the country’s first democratically-elected president.
They accuse Mohammad Morsi of behaving like a pharaoh — making a power grab by presidential decree.
During the Arab Spring, Egyptians came together on Tahrir Square to topple the country’s long-time dictator, Hosni Mubarak.
On Friday, Morsi’s opponents clashed with his supporters, while police fired tear gas canisters into the crowd.
“He’s saying that he’s our God,” said this protester. “He’s made a mistake.”
And this woman said that after marching for freedom the country’s ended up with a new dictator.
In Alexandria, an angry crowd stormed the offices of the Muslim Brotherhood from which President Morsi draws his support. They ransacked the building and then set it on fire.
From outside his presidential palace Friday, Mr. Morsi addressed the nation. He said the new measures are designed to cut through political gridlock.
“It was Allah’s will that I became the president,” he said, “and we need to go forward with the new steps, not backwards.”
But only 52 percent of Egyptians voted for the president. Now many of those who didn’t worry that Mr. Morsi wants to stifle democracy, and impose his own Islamist vision on the country.
Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department says Morsi’s actions “raise concerns.”
In a written statement a State Department spokesperson says: “One of the aspirations of the revolution was to ensure that power would not be overly concentrated in the hands of any one person or institution.”
But of course, Morsi’s actions would concentrate enormous power in his hands. That puts the administration in a difficult position because President Obama called Morsi three times this week during the Gaza cease fire negotiations; and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton flew to Cairo to meet with him. After the cease fire took effect, administration officials praised Morsi as a peacekeeper.
Now the White House has to figure out how to react to a so-called peacekeeper who’s stirring up so much protesting.
Here are some more pictures of the protests:
Watch President Morsi’s granting himself new powers: