It is a desperate situation for minority moderates and Coptic Christians in Egypt. I hope the beacon of freedom can provide them a measure of hope.
(Reuters) – Egyptian army tanks deployed outside the presidential palace on Thursday in streets where supporters and opponents of President Mohamed Mursi had clashed into the early hours of the morning in violence that killed five people.
Armored troop carriers also moved into the roads around the palace, in what Egypt’s state news agency said was a measure to secure the palace. The area had become a chaotic battleground between Mursi’s Islamist backers and their opponents.
The soldiers’ badges identified them as members of the Presidential Guard and Republican Guard, whose duties include guarding the presidency. At least five tanks and nine armored personnel carriers were seen near or around the palace.
The health ministry said five people had been killed and 350 wounded in bloodshed that has exacerbated the worst crisis since Mursi took office as Egypt’s first president since a popular uprising overthrew Hosni Mubarak in February, 2011.
The military played a crucial role in ending Mubarak’s 30-year rule by taking over from him to manage a transitional period, but it has stayed out of the latest crisis.
Mursi’s opponents accuse him of seeking to create a new autocracy by awarding himself extraordinary powers in a decree on November 22 and were further angered when an Islamist-dominated assembly pushed through a draft constitution that opponents said did not properly represent the aspirations of the whole nation.
The president has defended his decree as necessary to prevent courts still full of judges appointed by Mubarak from derailing a constitution vital for Egypt’s political transition.
Around the palace, traffic was moving through streets strewn with rocks thrown during violence in which petrol bombs and guns were also used. Hundreds of Mursi supporters were still in the area, many wrapped in blankets and some reading the Koran.
“We came here to support President Mursi and his decisions. He is the elected president of Egypt,” said demonstrator Emad Abou Salem, 40. “He has legitimacy and nobody else does.” (continue reading)