Egypt: Dueling Cairo demonstrations clamor to be heard
CAIRO -- More than two years after they overthrew the Mubarak regime through popular protests, many Egyptians think large, noisy demonstrations are as important as the ballot box in determining the democratic will of the people.
So it’s not surprising that the two camps now fighting over Egypt’s future did their best Sunday to bring out supporters in large numbers, one side to support ousted Islamist President Mohamed Morsi and the other side to celebrate his removal from office.
In Nasr City, the Cairo neighborhood that is a base of support for Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood, tens of thousands turned out Sunday to listen to rousing speeches condemning the military takeover and calling for Morsi to be restored to power.
Speakers blasted last week’s military coup as illegitimate and called upon mid-level army officers to revolt against top generals who pushed Morsi out.
“We will stay here for as long as it takes and peacefully pressure the army to reinstate Morsi,’’ said Gamal Ragab, 41, from Sharqey, who was injured during the protests to depose former President Hosni Mubarak. He said last week’s coup was a plot by Mubarak cronies to regain control of the country.
“They’ve been working on a plan to regain control,’’ he said. “Now that they have power again they will never let it go.”
Cairo student Tamer Madyan noted the Muslim Brotherhood has won repeatedly since 2011 in parliamentary, presidential and constitutional polls. “Now they’ve throw all that away,’’ he said. “They don’t want democracy.”
After seeing crowds wane for the past several days, the number of anti-Morsi demonstrators in Tahrir Square surged into the tens of thousands by Sunday evening.
Anti-Morsi supporters streamed in from different parts of the city to gather in a festival-like atmosphere of music, food and blaring horns.
The demonstrators, including many youth activists and liberal opposition groups, accused Morsi of attempting to hijack the Egyptian revolution and impose an Islamist agenda on the nation.
The military, which has sided with the anti-Morsi demonstrators, did its part to stoke patriotic passions.
Each time military helicopters flew above the square, demonstrators released deafening cheers. Some held up posters of army chief Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
Several times, air force jets streaked by, leaving trails of red, white and black smoke, the colors of the Egyptian flag.
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