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Showdown in Cairo: Secularists, Liberals vs Muslim Brotherhood

Reports of two people killed as Morsi supporters attack opposition activists staging a sit-in

- Craig Brown, staff writer

Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi’s supporters, background, clash with opponents, foreground, outside the presidential palace, in Cairo, Egypt, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012. Wednesday’s clashes began when thousands of Islamist supporters of Morsi descended on the area around the palace where some 300 of his opponents were staging a sit-in. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)Muslim Brotherhood supporters of Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi attacked an encampment outside the presidential palace in Cairo on Wednesday, with reports of two people killed and dozens more injured.

A group of opposition activists have been staging a sit-in outside the palace since Tuesday night after tens of thousands marched against Morsi.

Morsi supporters marched to the palace on Wednesday and tore down the opposition's tents; witnesses said they threw stones and used clubs to attack demonstrators, and there were reports of petrol bombs being thrown. Opposition protesters were driven away from the palace and fled down side streets.

The growing violence escalates a two-week-old political standoff in Egypt, which began with Morsi's November 22 decree, and grew as Morsi called for a public referendum on the final draft constitution on December 15th.

The opposition, made up of pro-democracy secularists and liberals, say the draft doesn't protect the rights of women and minorities, and grants too much power to the religious conservatives and the military.

Mohamed ElBaradei, a Nobel Peace laureate and leading opposition advocate of reform and democracy, accused the president's supporters of a "vicious and deliberate" attack against peaceful demonstrators.

ElBaradei told the Associated Press:

"This, in my view, is the end of any legitimacy this regime has. A regime that is not able to protect its people and is siding with his own sect, (and) thugs is a regime that lost its legitimacy and is leading Egypt into violence and bloodshed."

ElBaradei planned a news conference later on Wednesday.

 

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