Egyptians break through barrier protecting presidential palace

Last Updated: Sat, Dec 08, 2012 02:54 hrs

Cairo: Thousands of angry Egyptian opposition protesters broke through an army barricade to march on the presidential palace today, demanding Islamist President Mohamed Mursi to call off a controversial constitutional referendum that sparked the worst violence since he assumed power in June.

Soldiers, however, prevented the protesters from nearing the presidential palace's main gate.

Protesters have been arriving in the iconic Tahrir Square since early morning to prepare for mass rallies against Mursi, demanding that the President must roll back his edict granting himself expanded powers and must postpone the scheduled December 15 referendum on constitution.

They say the new draft constitution does not adequately represent or protect all Egyptians.

Egypt's main opposition coalition, the National Salvation Front, said it would not take part in the dialogue proposed by Mursi last night, a senior member of the group said.

The demonstrators from venues around Cairo including Giza, Tahrir Square, Abbaseya and a number of mosques converged on the Presidential Palace in Heliopolis, where tanks and armoured cars were positioned to keep protesters at bay.

The areas around the Presidential palace witnessed violent clashes between anti and pro-Mursi supporters in the past two days that left seven people dead and nearly 700 injured.

Muslim Brotherhood Mohamed Badie preached the sermon in Al-Azhar mosque today during the funeral of people who were killed clashes in front of the presidential palace.

Following the prayers the people attending the payers took to the street chanting "Egypt is Islamic Islamic" which caused immediate panic on social media.

Today's protest has been variously termed 'Friday to oust the Brotherhood's militias', 'Red Card Friday', and 'Ultimatum Friday'.

Hundreds of protesters have been holding a sit-in in Tahrir Square since November 22 when Mursi's constitutional declaration rendered his decisions above judicial challenge and made the Islamist-dominated Shura Council and Constituent Assembly immune from dissolution by court order. 

More from Sify: