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Egypt President Mohamed Morsi's removal sparks celebrations

Egypt President Mohamed Morsi's removal sparks celebrations
Egyptians celebrate along the Nile in Cairo after the military announced the removal of President Mohamed Morsi. (Amel Pain / European Pressphoto Agency)

CAIRO -- Opponents of Egypt's ousted president, Mohamed Morsi, celebrated into the night Wednesday after the military removed him from office, filling the streets in parts of the capital and in other cities and towns.

Revelers danced and cheered in Cairo's Tahrir Square and outside the presidential palace, waiving flags and flashing green-colored lasers. Fireworks lighted up the sky.

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"We want a better future, a better economy," said Riham Adel, a 28-year-old secretary who joined the throngs in Tahrir Square, epicenter of the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime strongman Hosni Mubarak. "We don't want to be so divided and polarized, and this is what the Muslim Brotherhood and Morsi did to us."

But while some celebrated the overthrow of what they regarded as an authoritarian leader with a heavily Islamist agenda, the removal of Egypt's first freely elected president incited fury among Morsi's supporters. They too were in the streets Wednesday, but appeared less defiant than in previous days.

Crowds gathered outside Cairo University and Rabaa al Adawiya mosque in the city's Nasr City district and waited tensely for the televised announcement, in which the military said it was suspending the Islamist-backed constitution and would install a coalition government ahead of fresh elections.

Many were unwilling to talk to reporters as they worried about whether the armed forces would attack them.

"If they bomb us, we will not let Morsi down," his supporters chanted outside the mosque. "If they shoot at us with bullets, we will not abandon our cause."

But few seemed inclined to pick a fight with the military.

"The army is an ally of the nation. It protects everyone, regardless of their political stance," said one demonstrator, Mahmoud Yassin. "There will be no clashes between us and the army, no matter what.... If the army steps in, we will stay and continue our peaceful demonstration in support of Morsi's legitimacy."

A tweet from Morsi's presidential office quoted him as saying that the measures announced by the armed forces amounted to a "full coup categorically rejected by all the free men of our nation."

But the office followed up with an appeal "to everyone to adhere to peacefulness and avoid shedding blood of fellow countrymen."

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Hassieb is a special correspondent

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