Dec 11, 2012
Early violence against opposition groups marked the day as Egyptians on both sides of the referendum controversy overtook the streets of Cairo Tuesday.
Tensions ran high after more than a dozen people were injured by masked gunmen who fired bird shot pellets and threw petrol bombs at protestors camping in Tahrir Square.
"The masked men came suddenly and attacked the protesters in Tahrir. The attack was meant to deter us and prevent us from protesting today. We oppose these terror tactics and will stage the biggest protest possible today," said opposition member John Gerges.
Tuesday's rival protests are being staged by opposition leaders who want Morsi's constitutional referendum to be delayed and believe that "sufficiently large numbers of protesters" may "change Morsi's mind," and Islamic Morsi supporters who want the vote to go ahead as planned on December 15, Reutersreports.
Despite a decree signed on Monday by President Morsi officially granting the Egyptian military the power to arrest and detain citizens, Al Jazeera reports that the "elite Republican Guard has yet to use force to keep protesters away from the palace, now ringed with tanks, barbed wire and concrete barricades."
Tuesday, dozens of protesters reportedly pushed down two of those giant concrete blocks which were blocking access to the site.
Meanwhile, thousands of Islamist Morsi supporters assembled at a nearby mosque.
The opposition coalition National Salvation Front (NSF) said it would announce Tuesday whether it would call for a boycott of the referendum or rally the public to vote down the draft charter, which critics charge with infringing on the rights and freedoms of the Egyptian people, the New York Timesreports.
If the constitution does pass, NSF member and leftist politician Hamdeen Sabahy said, "Egypt will continue in this really charged state. It is certain that this constitution is driving us to more political polarization."
"The road Mohamed Morsi is taking now does not create the possibility for national consensus," he added.
In preparation for the controversial vote, Morsi amended a law Tuesday to restrict voters from casting ballots outside their electoral districts, as they have in the past.
Also Tuesday, "in light of the unfolding developments on the ground," according to the International Monetary Fund, the Egyptian government has asked to delay a $4.8 billion IMF loan reportedly for another month to allow the government time to explain the heavily criticized austerity package to the Egyptian people, said Egyptian Finance Minister Mumtaz al-Said.
Democracy Now!'s Sharif Abdel Kouddous filed the below report from Cairo.
We're optimists who believe in the power of informed and engaged citizens to ignite and enact change to make the world a better place.
We're hundreds of thousands strong, but every single supporter counts.
Your contribution supports this new media model—free, independent, and dedicated to uncovering the truth. Stand with us in the fight for social justice, human rights, and equality. As a people-powered nonprofit news outlet, we cover the issues the corporate media never will. Join with us today!
Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.
We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.