Egyptian Army Moves to Restore Order After Deadly Protests Over Constitutional Crisis
The Egyptian army sealed off the presidential palace with tanks and barbed wire Thursday, a day after fierce clashes between supporters and opponents of the Islamist leader over a disputed constitution killed at least six people.
Compounding President Mohammed Morsi’s woes, another member of his 17-person advisory panel resigned in protest of his handling of the crisis, bringing the total to seven in the past two weeks. Rafik Habib, the only Coptic Christian adviser, was the latest to resign.
Protesters defied a deadline to vacate the area, demanding that Morsi rescind his Nov. 22 decrees giving himself near-absolute power and withdraw the disputed draft constitution passed by his Islamist allies that is headed for a Dec. 15 referendum. But the situation was calm throughout the day.
Thousands of Morsi supporters camped overnight outside the palace after driving away opposition activists who had been staging a sit-in there, prompting the wild street battles that spread to upscale residential areas nearby. The Brotherhood, which had erected metal barricades and manned checkpoints with rocks and empty glass bottles overnight, withdrew from the area by afternoon.
“I don’t want Morsi to back down,” said Khaled Omar, a Brotherhood supporter who had camped out. “We are not defending him. We are defending Islam, which is what people want.”