Anti-government protesters in Mahalla, Egypt’s largest industrial city, have reportedly taken over the local city council and announced their autonomy from the state ruled by the Muslim Brotherhood.
Protesters threw the head of their city council out of the building, announcing they “no longer belong to the Ikhwani state,” the Daily News Egypt reports.
Workers have attempted to create a “revolutionary council” and rule the industrial city, report suggests. The head of the Mahalla City Council, Ismail Fathy, however, denied the claims.
“The demonstrations, which attracted around 3,000 people, were peaceful,” he told satellite TV channel CBC in a phone interview. “Nothing of this sort happened.”
Mokhtar El-Ashri, the senior leader of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, also denied reports of Mahalla’s announcement to secede.
“I was in Mahalla all day, I did not see any of this happening,” he told CBC.
El-Mahalla el-Kubra, a city north of Cairo home to 450,000, was dubbed the cradle of the Egyptian revolution. The opposition April 6 movement was formed there in 2009, and the first major anti-government protests also took place there.
Meanwhile, unconfirmed reports circulating on Twitter suggest that protesters in four more Egyptian cities – Alexandria, Kafr Sheikh, Sharqaya and Sohag – have declared independence, announcing that President Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood have lost the legitimacy to rule following the deadly clashes in Cairo that left at least seven people killed and hundreds injured.
The Egypt Independent confirmed clashes between opponents and supporters of President Morsi in Alexandria on Friday evening, adding that demonstrators had broken into the city’s local council building.
Meanwhile in Tanta, Egypt’s fifth-largest city, a crowd of anti-government protesters reportedly torched the Freedom and Justice Party’s local headquarters.
Hoda Osman, president of the Arab and Middle Eastern Journalist Association, believes that as public discontent in the streets grows, President Morsi is repeating his predecessor’s mistakes.
“There are lots of feelings against the Muslim Brotherhood by a lot of Egyptians, especially because of the role they played right after the revolution,” she explained. “A lot of people saw that they were close to the army and the army was responsible for a lot of the problems that we were seeing.”
Egyptians are seeing another dictator in the making – “they are seeing another Mubarak,” Osman said.
“Morsi is really making the same mistakes that Mubarak did during the January 25 Revolution,” she explained. “We are seeing him too slow to react to people’s demands. It is a fast moving situation, yet he is very slow to respond.”
Instead of calming people down, Morsi’s address to the nation actually enraged them more. On Friday, thousands of anti-government protesters surrounded the presidential palace in Cairo after dismantling the barricades around it, injuring several security officers in the process.
“When protesters went down to the streets, their main demand was to cancel this constitutional declaration,” Osman said. “But today if you see the footage of Egyptians you can hear them asking Morsi to quit, asking him to leave just like they asked Mubarak.”