By Arab News
Egyptian President Muhammad Mursi’s decision to assume sweeping powers caused fury among his opponents and prompted violent clashes in central Cairo and other cities yesterday.
Police fired tear gas near Tahrir Square where thousands demanded Mursi quit and accused him of launching a “coup” and “power grab.” There were violent protests in Alexandria, Port Said and Suez.
Opponents accused Mursi, who has issued a decree that puts his decisions above legal challenge until a new Parliament is elected, of being the new Mubarak and hijacking the revolution.
“The people want to bring down the regime,” shouted protesters in Tahrir, echoing a chant used in the uprising that forced Mubarak to step down. “Get out, Mursi,” they chanted, along with “Mubarak tell Mursi, jail comes after the throne.”
Mursi’s aides said the presidential decree was intended to speed up a protracted transition that has been hindered by legal obstacles but Mursi’s rivals condemned him as an autocratic pharaoh who wanted to impose his vision on Egypt.
“I am for all Egyptians. I will not be biased against any son of Egypt,” Mursi said on a stage outside the presidential palace, adding that he was working for social and economic stability and the rotation of power.
“Opposition in Egypt does not worry me, but it has to be real and strong,” he said.
“God will humiliate those who are attacking our president, Muhammad Mursi,” said cleric Mohammed Abdel-Maksoud. “Whoever insults the sultan, God humiliates him,” he added.
Protesters burned offices of the Brotherhood’s political arm in the Suez Canal cities of Suez, Ismailia and Port Said, east of Cairo.