Islamists rally in support of Mursi

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 02 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 02 December, 2012, 6:54am


Tens of thousands of Islamists rallied yesterday in support of President Mohamed Mursi's new expanded powers and the drafting of a contested charter, highlighting Egypt's widening polarisation.

The demonstration in the heart of Cairo comes a day after crowds thronged to Tahrir Square to protest against the president's decree and the speedy adoption of the draft constitution.

The charter has taken centre stage in the country's worst political crisis since Mursi's election in June.

It is expected to go to a popular referendum within two weeks.

Members of the constituent assembly were due later yesterday to hand Mursi the final draft of the constitution.

Tens of thousands of pro-Mursi demonstrators, including from the Muslim Brotherhood, on whose ticket Mursi ran for office, and hardline Salafists, packed the wide avenue running in front of Cairo University.

"We want this phase to end, we want a constitution. If people don't like the constitution, let them say so through the ballot boxes," one protester said, as others chanted: "The people want the implementation of God's law."

Veiled women ululated among the protesters who carried Egyptian and Saudi flags and posters of Mursi, with banners reading: "Together [with Mursi] to save the revolution".

Pro-Mursi protests were also staged in the Mediterranean city Alexandria and the central Egyptian province of Assiut.

Across the Nile river, hundreds of protesters camped out in Tahrir Square since Mursi issued a decree expanding his powers were joined by more demonstrators throughout the day.

The National Rescue Front - a coalition of opponents led by former UN nuclear watchdog chief Mohamed ElBaradei, ex-Arab League chief Amr Mussa and former presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabbahi - has called on the decree's opponents to keep up the pressure.