Hundreds of thousands of Egyptians demonstrated on November 30, 2012 against the imposition of a draft constitution taking more power for the Muslim Brotherhood government. The protests have occured everyday for the last week., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Live Updates: Protesters gather for anti-Morsi demonstrations
Hazel Haddon, Randa Ali, Salma Shukrallah, Friday 30 Nov 2012
Tens of thousands protest in Tahrir Square in opposition to President Morsi's Constitutional Declaration, with smaller opposition protests and pro-Morsi rallies nationwide
21:00 That’s all for Ahram Online’s live updates today. You can read the first part of the day’s coverage here.
20:40 Back to Tahrir Square, where Ahram Online correspondent Osman El-Sharnoubi is talking to demonstrators.
Adel Rabie, a member of the Higher Council of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, comments:
“If the declaration is not withdrawn we will call for civil disobedience. As for the constitution, we will call for a no vote if it is is put to referendum.”
“How can we pass a constitution written in the absence of representatives of 80 per cent of Egyptians - workers and farmers?” he asked.
20:35 The Constitution Party is calling for Cairo University students to march from the university in Giza to Tahrir Square on Saturday at 2pm, protesting the president’s Constitutional Declaration, according to the party’s Facebook page. The Muslim Brotherhood and various Salafist parties will be holding their demonstration in support of Morsi’s decree on the same day, in front of Cairo University where the student march is planned to depart from.
20:30 The National Salvation Front, a coalition of opposition groups and figures formed last Saturday to counter Morsi’s Constitutional Declaration (including Mohamed ElBaradei, Hamdeen Sabbahi, the Free Egyptians Party, the Wafd Party, the Nasserist Coalition, among others) are currently meeting at the headquarters of the liberal Wafd to discuss their response to recent events regarding the Constitutional Declaration and the constitution-drafting process.
20:20 Ahram Online's Sara Rashidi reports that the square is very crowded, the mood is upbeat, with drums being played loudly and lots of cheers and clapping from the crowd.
20:10 Privately-owned newspaper Al-Watan has reported that the house of Saad El-Husseini, who is the governor of Kafr El-Sheikh and a Muslim Brotherhood member, was attacked today. The house, which is in the Nile Delta city of Mahalla, not in neighbouring Kafr El-Sheikh, was attacked by protesters who threw rocks at the building, the paper reported.
20:00 Outside the capital, some pro-Brotherhood demonstrations have reportedly been taking place.
The northern coastal city of Damietta saw a pro-Morsi rally today organised by the Brotherhood, reported the Al-Ahram Arabic news website. The rally marched from Ezbet El-Lahm Mosque, chanting "Stand fast, president" according to the site.
An Ahram Online correspondent reported that Beni Suef also saw a pro-Morsi demonstration of more than a thousand in one of the governorate’s districts on Friday. There was also a mass demonstration in support of the president on Thursday, organised by all local Islamist factions, which numbered more than ten thousand.
19:45 Sara Rashidi has also been talking to protesters in the square about the ongoing problems of sexual harassment and assault. One volunteer anti-harassment guard, Amr Rico, told her he had encountered several incidents today.
Mona Prince, a professor at Suez University, told Rashidi that she didn’t feel that sexual harassment in the square was bad today or on Tuesday, although she was very happy to see that there are now volunteer security initiatives protecting women from harassment.
19:30 In Tahrir, Ahram Online reporter Sarah Rashidi spoke to Ali Ismail, the owner of a management consultancy firm in his 60s, who told her that his main fear is Egypt becoming a religious state like Iran.
"This is the first time in my 61 years that I have come to Tahrir to demonstrate. We have always been the gate between East and West, and now we are becoming a fascist state," he said.
"What is happening is a shame. I will come tomorrow too I have nothing to lose; I'm 61 and I'm willing to die."
19:15 Several members of the April 6 Youth Movement in President Morsi’s home governorate of Sharqiya have gathered at Morsi's house chanting "Down with the president."
Security forces are at the scene but have not interfered with the protesters, given their small numbers and the non-violent nature of the demonstration, Al-Ahram’s Arabic website reported.
The protesters also chanted against the Muslim Brotherhood.
19:10 After speaking to the masses in Tahrir and announcing that he will be sleeping in the square overnight, Mohamed ElBaradei further denounced the president's decree via Twitter.
"The president & his constituent assembly are currently staging a coup against democracy. Regime legitimacy fast eroding," said ElBaradei.
19:05 Ahram Online reporters in Tahrir say that the square is less full than on Tuesday. ##
19:00 The imam of Sidi Gaber Mosque in Alexandria, Hassan Abdel-Baseer, has resigned from his position, complaining in a statement that he has been facing pressure from the Ministry of Religious Endowments to support President Mohamed Morsi’s Constitutional Declaration in his speeches.
Al-Ahram Arabic news website reported that Abdel-Baseer read his statement in front of thousands of Muslim Brotherhood members and loyalists at the mosque on Friday, while they were demonstrating in support of the declaration.
The sheikh announced that he had received instructions from the ministry to urge people who come and pray at his mosque to support the president’s decision, a demand which he refused. He further condemned the instructions as being similar to those given to imams by the former regime.
Abdel-Baseer was attacked by Brotherhood supporters at the mosque and was forced to leave, Al-Ahram reported. Muslim Brotherhood member Talaat Fahmy then took the pulpit, urging people not to believe Abdel-Baseer, claiming that he was a member of the state security apparatus and was instructed to make such statements.
18:50 Human Rights Watch released a report slamming the constitution for not protecting human rights. Ahram Online journalist Bel Trew caught up with HRW's Egypt Director Heba Morayef.
"If you look at the freedom of expression section of the constitution, it is worse than the [Mubarak-era] 1971 constitution," she commented.
"The article which worries me the most is Article 71, a provision which says that 'every rights article in the Rights Chapter is subject to conforming with Chapter 1' which is on state and society. The language of Chapter 1 is full of very broad terms, such as the state has to maintain 'moral behaviour' and guarantee the 'true nature of the Egyptian family' - you could use any of this vague language to negate any part of the Rights chapter."
"The language on women in the current constitution now will not stop regression in legislation for women's rights - the constitution sets a worrying precedent linguistically and technically."
"For example, in 2009 the State Council ruled that they didn't want women to work at the body; this was overturned by the Constitutional Court, who were able to say, because of the non-discriminatory provision in the Constitution, that you couldn't prevent women from assuming these roles."
"In the current constitution, it doesn't specifically say you cannot discriminate on the grounds of gender; therefore it would be harder to push through the Constitutional Court's verdict. The language instead says that women must balance their work and family life - it makes these battles more difficult."
"Article 11 says that you cannot 'insult an individual' - what does this mean? One of the biggest problems today is prosecuting people on the grounds of insulting the judiciary, or insulting the president or insulting the army - anything can be interpreted as an 'insult'."
18:40 Earlier in the day, Ahram Online's Bel Trew spoke to senior adviser to the Muslim Brotherhood and Freedom and Justice Party, Gehad El-Haddad.
“The constitution is extremely balanced - it walks a fine line between right and left and the end result is satisfying for the majority. We were expecting more but it’s a big step forward. I have some concerns with the document - for example, we want the decentralised management of the state on a municipality level which is not yet stated clearly in the constitution," he commented.
“However, my analysis is that it removes 50 per cent of the powers that the president had in the 1971 constitution and balances it with the power of the parliament."
In response to a Human Rights Watch report criticising the lack of key articles protecting human rights, El-Haddad said that there are grey areas, as nations have different perspectives on what is acceptable or not, and the constitution reflects Egypt's culture.
“The constitution is not a single document that suits all nations in the world but is tailored to the country’s own specificity.”
ElBaradei’s criticism of the national charter was unfounded according to El-Haddad, sayinng that the liberal figure was discussing articles that don’t actually exist. The opposition figure had earlier said that the constitution belonged in the “garbage can of history."
“At the end of the day, the constitution was passed by a two-thirds majority, which is pretty unanimous. When there is a parliament in place, there can be amendments made the constitution as was done in France and the US.
The constitution in my mind is one of the most successful initiatives during Morsi’s presidency. It is very sad for me to see this political bickering from opposition figures, which is against finalising the transition of Egypt.”
18:35 Ahram Online reporter Bassem Abou El-Abbas spoke to former leading Muslim Brotherhood member Kamal El-Helbawi.
"Even if the Muslim Brotherhood manage to gather big numbers at their protests tomorrow, the heart of the ones in Tahrir [today] will give them the will to fight," said El-Helbawi.
18:30 Singer Ramy Essam, famous for performing revolutionary songs in Tahrir Square during the revolution in 2011, is in the square now, singing on the stage.
18:25 Al-Ahram’s Arabic news website has reported that the general assembly of the State Council has recommended that Morsi's legal advisor, Judge Mohamed Fouad Gadalla, and members of the group Judges for Egypt, have their names removed from the Judges’ Club list, a symbolic move that would not have an impact on the judges’ work.
‘Judges for Egypt’ have recently voiced their support for the president's constitutional declaration.
18:15 Egyptian Islamist cleric, Sheikh Youssef El-Qaradawi, chairman of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, is supporting the project of the constitution.
"Egypt has never witnessed a constitution like this at any point in time," he stated during Friday prayers in Doha.
"What has been achieved is great and the people have the last word by either accepting or rejecting it."
"The constitution contains values and principles of freedom and justice, which is all that Egyptians need, in all aspects."
"Over time we can make additions to the constitution; this will be over the years. We cannot achieve everything at once. That is why we are persisting and we are optimistic about this constitution."
"People should not withdraw from the Constituent Assembly, since withdrawal will not lead to a result."
He also stated, regarding the president's interview on Thursday evening: "What President Morsi said was absolutely just and righteous. People have the right to oppose, but they don’t have the right to fight."
18:05 Egyptian Communist Party leader Moustafa El-Gamal says that the party is in the square today to topple President Morsi.
“The constitutional decree and Constituent Assembly are illegitimate and we are most concerned that the constitution does not protect social justice,” he told reporter Sarah Rashidi.
18:00 Ahram Online’s Sara Rashidi speaks to Heba, an unveiled woman in her mid-30s, who describes herself as a former “sofa party” supporter, or politically-indifferent.
“I came from Alexandria to tell Morsi...I didn’t elect you and I don’t approve of you. You made a constitution in 48 hours and you’re changing everything for the worse. Women are scared now of not wearing the veil...Now we have ignorant people writing our constitution - they should talk to our brains, not through ignorant religious talk...This constitution is a shame to Egypt.”
17:55 In Egypt's Nile Delta, around four thousand Beheira residents, including members of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafist Nour Party, took to the streets to voice their support for Morsi's constitutional decree, according to Ahram’s Arabic news website.
Forming human chains and holding pictures of the president, the protesters chanted: "Oh president, keep moving on, millions are following you."
It was reported earlier that several hundred had been protesting against the president and his controversial decree in the city.
17:45 Mohamed ElBaradei spoke on the stage in Tahrir as crowds cheered loudly, repeating the famous phrase: “The people want the downfall of the regime,” says Ahram Online’s Osman Sharnoubi, reporting from the square.
ElBaradei added that: “It is necessary to go back to the stage before the declaration. We say the current draft constitution is illegitimate...We hold Morsi fully responsible for the state of division and civil strife the country may experience.”
Founder of pro-democracy movement Kefaya, George Ishaq, told Al-Ahram’s Arabic news website in Tahrir that he will be participating in the overnight sit-in with other political figures like ElBaradei, Hamdeen Sabbahi and Amr Moussa. He also announced a general strike, to start on Tuesday if the president does not back down, starting with various satellite channels which will cease transmission and newspapers that will not publish their daily editions.
17:40 Famous football player and former parliamentary candidate for the moderate Islamist Wasat Party list, Nader El-Sayed, speaks in Tahrir Square, pointing out the large numbers of Egyptian flags displayed and commenting:
“This is because all Egyptians are here...in comparison it will be hard to see the veiled and the unveiled next to each other in tomorrow’s protest [organised by the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafist parties] at Cairo University.”
Meanwhile in Upper Egypt's Qena, hundreds of Salafists and members of the Muslim Brotherhood are protesting in Manshia Square.
"These marches are for saving sharia law," Ammar Hanafi, spokesperson of the Brotherhood in Qena, told Al-Ahram Arabic news website.
17:35 Political groups in the city of Ismalia, on the Suez Canal, organised an anti-Morsi rally through the city. Marchers chanted “No to the Brotherhood constitution,” and “Down with the rule of the Brotherhood Supreme Guide.”
Among those who participated in the rally are the liberal Wafd Party and the Constitution Party, as well as the Nasserist Karama Party, the Popular Socialist Coalition and the 6 April Youth Movement.
17:30 Leading opposition figure Mohamed ElBaradei takes to Tahrir Square's main stage. Meanwhile, the news announced by stage speaker that ElBaradei, Hamdeen Sabbahi and Amr Moussa will sleep over in the square is met with applause and cheers by the 1000s-strong crowd. ##
17:15 We're back in Tahrir Square, where clashes between protesters and police are still ongoing on the periphery by Simon Bolivor Square and the Corniche.
Early this morning security forces built another concrete barricade by the US embassy, walling in the area. Khaled Mahmoud, a field doctor in the square told Ahram Online journalist Sarah Rashidi that they are in urgent need of medical supplies.
"Most of the injuries are caused by glass and stones," said Mahmoud.
Meanwhile back in Tahrir Square, Soheir, a teacher wearing the niqab (the full face veil) told an Ahram Online reporter she is against Morsi's decree and the Muslim Brotherhood.
Breaking the stereotype of ultra-conservative Muslims supporting Islamist political groups, Soheir says that she supported Mubarak-era prime minister Ahmed Shafiq in the presidential elections run-offs against Mohamed Morsi.
Her husband, Atef, agreed with her, saying that "if Morsi doesn’t change the constitution then he must go."
17:10 Welcome to the second part of Ahram Online's live coverage of a day of protests against President Mohamed Morsi's constitutional declaration. You can find the first part here.
Protesters are also opposing the draft constitution, which was finalised by the controversial Constituent Assembly in the early hours of this morning. Opposition groups argue that Morsi's recent moves have shored up his own power and moved Egypt closer to dictatorship, while presidential supporters argue that the measures are temporary and necessary for Egypt's transition – and that the majority of Egyptians support the president.
So far this morning, protests have been taking place in Cairo's Tahrir Square, the Nile Delta cities of Damanhour and Mahalla, and in Alexandria, while pro-Morsi rallies have been reported in Wadi El-Gedid, Minya and Assiut in Upper Egypt.
Live Updates: Friday protests against Egypt's draft constitution, Morsi's 'power grab'
Bel Trew, Nada Rashwan, Yasmine Fathy, Yasmine Wali, Friday 30 Nov 2012
Opposition forces protest Egypt's new draft constitution passed in the early hours of Friday morning; Demonstrations expected across the country against President Morsi's contentious Constitutional Declaration
17: 10 With 10,000s still in Tahrir Square, Ahram Online's afternoon shift bids you farewell.
17:05 Abdel-Hakim Abdel-Nasser, son of former president Gamal Abdel-Nasser, joins Tahrir protesters, to cheering crowds.
17:00 Osama Najdi, member of Nasserist Karama Party, talks to Ahram Online's reporter Osman Sharnoubi
"We are not against Morsi's legitimacy; we are for it as long as he follows the revolution's principles, which he is not.” Najdi explained:
"The Constitutional Declaration is unnecessary and entrenches a dictatorship. He is not taking concrete steps to hold accountable those who killed protesters and is not targeting the Ministry of Interior or punishing those who withheld evidence. Instead, he is asking the families of martyrs to bring evidence themselves. He also did not hold the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) responsible and is now going to trick the Egyptians by referendum like the Brotherhood did in March 2011."
16:45 Shifting South to Upper Egyptian governorate of Minya, 1000s of Salafists and Muslim Brotherhood members are demonstrating in support of Morsi's decree.
The gathering crowds chanted against opposition figures Mohamed ElBaradei and Hamdeen Sabbahi, according to Al-Ahram Arabic news website.
16:30 Father of slain activist, Saleh Gaber, or "Jika", who was gunned down by security forces on 20 November, speaks from the 6 April Movement stage on Tahrir Square. Jika was a member of the youth group.
"Jika is not one of Morsi's sons he is the son of Egypt, Morsi's real sons are ones with American passports not concerned with Egypt," Jika's father said, slamming Morsi's yesterday's statement on state TV.
The father saluted the youth of 6 April movement "for what they have given to Egypt."
16:25 Former presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabbahi takes to the main stage on Tahrir and addresses 1000s of protesters.
“Egypt will not be forced to choose between a dictatorial declaration and a rushed constitution written by a fraction of Egyptian society. Egypt will not bow down to the will of a few,” he said, as crowds chanted back, “The people will overthrow the regime.”
Speaking to the Constituent Assembly directly, the Nasserist figure continued "You are afraid that the High Constitutional Court’s verdict on Sunday will be against you so you are racing to finish the constitution.”##
16:20 The freshly completed Constitution remains Egypt's hottest topic, with the country's top political actors continuing to exchange barbs over the document's content.
Senior adviser to the Muslim Brotherhood and Freedom and Justice Party, Gehad El-Haddad speaking to Ahram Online reporter Bel Trew, responds to some of the criticism leveled at the national charter:
“The constitution is is extremely balance - it walks a fine line between right and left and the end result is satisfying for the majority. We were expecting more but it’s a big step forward. I have some concerns with the document - for example, we want the decentralised management of the state on a municipality level which is not yet stated clearly in the constitution.
“However, my analysis is that it removes 50 per cent of the powers that the president had in the 1971 Constitution and balances it with the power of the parliament. “
In response to Human Rights Watch report criticising the lack of key articles protecting human rights El-Haddad said that there are grey areas, as nations have different perspectives on what is acceptable or not, the constitution reflects the cultural specificity of Egypt.
“The constitution is not a single document that suits all nations in the world but is tailored to the country’s own specificity.”
ElBaradei’s criticism of the national charter El-Haddad said was unfounded, as he was panning articles that don’t actually exist. The opposition figure had earlier said that the constitution belonged in the “garbage can of history."
“At the end of the day, the constitution was passed by two-thirds majority, which is pretty unanimous, when there is a parliament in place, there can be amendments made the constitution as was done in France and the US.
The constitution in my mind is one of the most successful initiatives during Morsi’s presidency, it is very sad for me to see this political bickering from opposition figures, which is against finalising the transition of egypt.”
16:00 Meanwhile ex-presidential candidate Amr Moussa is heading a 1000s-strong march from the Wafd Party headquarters.
Wafd chairman Al-Sayed Al-Badawi is also in the march together with the party's senior committee, as they enter Tahrir Square to participate in the million-man Tahrir rallies.
"Egyptians will not lose their political conscious and will not allow their will to be broken," Al-Badawi told the crowds, “They won’t give up their right to the quality of life they demand.”
The head of Al-Wafd Party called for unity, confirming that Egyptians will stand together and face up to the Constitutional Declaration until it gets cancelled.
“Egyptians will stand against every attempt to destroy national unity.".
"Down with the supreme guide rule. Void the constitutional declaration; down with Morsi," the crowds shout back.
15:55 Opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei is expected to give to a speech on the main stage in Tahrir Square at 4pm, ElBaradei's media spokesman announces.
15:50 The Nasserists are out in full force again. On Tuesday posters of former president Gamal Abdel-Nasser were being sold by every vendor on the square- now a symbolic museum has erected near KFC restaurant to commemorate the late state leader, whose era is famously remembered for its intolerance of the Muslim Brotherhood.
The museum, dubbed the "Museum of the Revolution", also displays newspaper clippings of notorious Islamist figures.
One example is FJP member Azza El-Garf, who sparked uproar when he recommended the removal of articles in the constitution calling for gender equality.
In the revolutionary museum, protesters have also laid floral wreaths to the martyrs of the January 25 Revolution.
15:45 Moving further south, more counter protests are being held by Brotherhood members and Salafists in Assiut.
Hussein Lazoomy, the youth secretary of the Freedom and Justice Party in Upper Egyptian city said that “the purpose of the march is to show support and to demand that the remnants of the old regime are purged from Egypt.”
15:40 Not all the protests in Egypt today are against the president. A pro-Morsi march has erupted in the southwestern governorate of Wadi El-Gedid.
Members of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafist Nour Party are out on the streets chanting: “Yes, to Egypt’s new constitution,” and “Morsi is the people’s president.”
15:35 More marches are streaming into the square from El-Fateh mosque in Cairo’s downtown area of Ramses. Thousands of protesters participating in the march chant against the declaration as well as the Constituent Assembly that finalised the draft of the constitution overnight early Friday.
15:24 After a long march from Mostafa Mahmoud Mosque in Mohandiseen, the thousands of protesters are still high spirits as they enter Tahrir Square, waving Revolutionary Socialists and Egyptian Popular Current flags and chanting for social
justice and a representative government.
Leading the chants is labor activist and lawyer Haytham Mohamadein. He is joined by familiar faces including former presidential contender Hamdeen Sabbahi, former MP Ziad El-Eleimi and Egyptian actress and dancer Sherihan.##
15:20 Staying in the Nile Delta, thousands are now taking the streets of the industrial city Mahalla to denounce Morsi's declaration.
Mahalla saw brutal clashes between rival protest groups on Tuesday following a mass demonstration against the president's "power grab", which left more than 100 injured.
For more information on unrest in the Delta, read Ahram Online journalist Yassin Gaber's report
15:15 Moving north to the Nile Delta city of Damanhour, 250 protesters are marching form Autobis Mosque to Saea Square against President Morsi’s controversial Constitutional Decree.
The protesters chanted against the Muslim Brotherhood, yelling, “The Brotherhood used religion to lie to us,” and “Oh Brotherhood, Egypt is for all Egyptians!”
Last week there bloody clashes in Saea Square, which houses the Brotherhood headquarters, between supporters of the Islamist group and opponents to Morsi resulting in the death of Brotherhood member Islam Maasoud, 15.
15:10 Meanwhile, fierce debates continue about the draft constitution. Abdul Aziz Husseiny, organisational secretary for the nationalist Karama Party tells Ahram Online his thoughts on the subject:
“The public opinion division over the constitution, and the persistence in completing the constitution in a very short time period is unheard of in any part of the world.
The Constitutional Declaration that was issued by the president recently allocated more time to finish off the constitution. So, when they draft the constitution quickly, they end up passing something bizarre. Also, the court appealed against the Constituent Assembly’s legitimacy. Plus, there are lots of members who were not happy and resigned from the assembly.
Putting the Constitution to referendum overrides the legitimacy and power of the judiciary. Thus, there will be no national consensus. They have to learn from the mistakes made by others and what the consequences were. In the end, the regime has lost its legitimacy, and that is what happened in the January 25 Revolution.”
15:05 Despite reports of sexual assault on Tahrir during Tuesday's protests, Ahram Online reporter Hani Shukrallah, says that there are many women of all ages in the square today.
“It seems that the incidents of sexual harassment that have reported in the last few days have not been put off. Every now and then a woman leads the chants on the main stage in the square,” reports Shukrallah.
15:00 More marches are beginning to pour into the square, the latest 300 people holding banners that read “The residents of Azhar and Hossien (Fatimid working class areas near downtown Cairo) rejects Morsi’s constitutional declaration.” The march was saluted by the protesters in the square.
14:55 Around 2000 people have entered Tahrir Square on a march from El-Fatah mosque chanting “Bread, Freedom, and down with the Constituent Assembly,” says Ahram Online reporter Zeinab El-Guindy.
Protesters are holding pictures of Gaber Salah, also known as Jika, a 16-year-old member of 6 April movement, who was killed during clashes with Egypt’s police force last week.
14:50 Moving north to Egypt’s coastal city of Alexandria, a march of around 10,000 protesters has began from Kaed Ibrahim mosque.
According to Alexandria activist Mahienour El-Massry, the march is heading to the Sidi Gaber district of the city. He says, “When we get there, a group of us will head to Tahrir to support the protests there, and the rest will continue holding marches and protests in Alexandria.”
A popular conference will also be held at the end of the march by the different political forces. El-Massry says Muslim Brotherhood supporters and Salafists are also planning to hold a protest in the same area.
“They will gather in Sheikh Street, which is only one street away from where we will be. I am not sure what will happen.”
The march was organised by the liberal Constitution Party, the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, the Popular Coalition Party, the Revolutionary Socialists, the 6th of April Movement, and the Alexandria based “We are all independent” group.
14:45 Two wooden watch towers have been constructed on the Arab League entrance to Tahrir and one near the Egyptian Museum to maintain security, reports Ahram Online journalist Zeinab El-Guindy.
Protesters plan to man the towers to keep an eye on sexual assault and thuggery - particularly as there were several reports of mob sexual attacks on women during Tuesday's million-man protest.##
14:30 Reports are coming in that the march at Istaqama Mosque in Giza has been attacked by pro-President Morsi supporters - the second opposition protest to be confronted by pro-Brotherhood groups.
14:15 There are a number of first-time protesters who say they have "had enough" and so joined the thousands-strong march which has yet to leave Shubra Square, Ahram Online reporter Ekram Ibrahim reports.
Ramez Fawzi, 35, is one of them:
“I am here to get rid of Morsi, I am fed up. We wanted the Constitution first but they brought the president first and now he has given us a tailored constitution."
“Egypt has been ruined after the revolution," added 56-year-old housewife Soad Gerges, who admits that she has never demonstrated before, "I am praying that Egypt is fixed."
"The groups are mostly shouting “Yes, we are chanting against the supreme guide”, “Morsi, leave", “Egypt, some thieves have stolen you from us” and “we do not want a Wahabi constitution”," reports Ahram Online's Ibrahim, "In addition, the liberal Egyptian Social Democratic Party and Coptic group Maspero Youth Union are the leading organisers of this march. The Liberal Adl and Free Egyptians parties also sent representatives."
14:10 Moving back to Tahrir Square, where the numbers are increasing, Ahram Online reporter Zeinab El-Guindy says protesters have hung signs saying "No entry for sexual harrassers."
Following a rise in reports of mob sexual assaults on women in the square, "Tahrir Bodyguards" a new initiative was launched by independent activists and rights groups such as Nazra for Feminist Studies, Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, HarassMap. Ahram Online reporter Bel Trew spoke to Leil-Zahra, an activist who has been working on the project and similar campaigns like the End Sexual Harrasment Campaign.
"First of all we're working on a guide to advise women on how to dress when going to the square,and for men on how to help a girl who is being attacked. So for example, give the girl your back to protect her, don't smother, get her to a safe space then make sure you get woman to look after her and give her emotional support. The guide will be distributed among activists and then a simplified version will be blown up to A3 size and hung around the square. We are also running a hotline phone number,which is essentially a phone tree to reach volunteers who will intervene and get the girl out. All the volunteers wear a pink band to identify them, as one of the biggest problems the girls who get attacked face in the chaos is trying to work out who is helping them and who is actually attacking them. On friday "Tahrir Bodyguard", will set up an awareness tent on the square."
14:05 Brotherhood figures, meanwhile, are praising the draft Constitution passed in the early hours of this morning. Leading member of the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) Essam El-Erian, hinted that divine inspiration was behind the national charter on his Facebook page:
“When people read the draft constitution they will all know that it is an honor for every Egyptian. Perfection belongs to God only but we have produced a draft constitution that suits revolutionary Egypt; one that achieves the hopes of the martyrs and the injured revolutionaries. Every Egyptian will realise that there is an organised campaign of rumours and lies promoted against the draft, and that it will fail.”
14:00 Tensions rise in Cairo's suburbs: protesters participating in a march from Raba El-Adwyia Mosque in Heliopolis to Tahrir told Ahram Online reporter Salma Shukrallah that their demonstration have been blocked by Muslim Brotherhood supporters.
“There were tens of us and we expected more to join as made our way to Tahrir, however a group of Brotherhood supporters blocked our way and kept chanting in support of the president and the Constitutional Declaration”, one of the protesters said, “as it got nasty we thought we'd have to leave and join other marches. However we gathered again and decided to go on with our march.”
13:50 "This is the worst constitution in Egypt's history," Hana Abul-Ghar, a leading member of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party and child rights advocate, tells Ahram Online.
“It is not fit for Egypt whatsoever especially after all the sacrifices made before and after the revolution. We are going to Tahrir today and we will sit-in with all the other revolutionary forces and movements because everybody is angry. There was a chance yesterday to contain the anger of people but now they are forcing us to accept the status quo. When we didn’t agree with Mubarak so we made him step down, and if Morsi continues we will make him lose his legitimacy.We accepted that he is Egypt's president but if he doesn't act as a president for all Egyptians so we will not accept him. He wants to be president for part of the Egyptians living here, that's it."
13:45 Back to Tahrir Square, Ahram Online journalist Ekram Ibrahim speaks to 50-year-old ex-Islamist protester Ibrahim Abul-Kheir, who came to demonstrate against Muslim Brotherhood and the constitution:
“I was a member of the [hardline Salafist] Call and Proselytism group in the 1970s, from my experience I can tell you these [Islamists] are all frauds. The Muslim Brotherhood is a fascist group that we need to get rid of. I was arrested during the Mubarak regime and I participated in the 18-day uprising against it, but now I’d rather have him in power than the Brotherhood.”
"I own a medical supplies factory," he continued, "As a member of the industrial section, I see the article about industries in the draft constitution is too ambiguous and does not uphold the industrial section at all.”
13:30 Marches from Fatah Mosque in Ramses, Dawaram square in Shoubra, Mostafa Mahmoud Mosque in Mohandiseen and Istaqama Mosque in Giza have left and are on their way to Tahrir Square.
13:20 Liberal forces continue to slam the last minute constitution. Elham Aidarous of the Socialist Popular Alliance Party, which lost one of its members Tuesday to a heart attack during the clashes just off Tahrir Square, explained his reservations with the draft national charter:
“The military have super powers in the new draft constitution, much more than they had in the 1971 Constitution in terms of allowing military trials for civilians and appointing military officials.
The Armed Forces has a separate board and budget away from the parliament or any other civilian authority. The Shura Council that we wanted to dissolve is now strongly tied to the president. There are no articles added on the personal freedoms. They refused criminalising human trafficking and specifying an age for marriage.”
13:10 Not all in the presidential camp are happy with the way the Constitution has been put together. Consultant to the president, Ayman El-Sayad, says on his official Twitter account that what we saw yesterday with the Constituent Assembly “marathon” session proves that this is not the right enivronment for writing a constitution.
13:00 The reactions are coming in thick and fast to the passing of Egypt’s draft Constitution. Leading member of the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, Dr. Ahmed Okeil spoke to Ahram Online:
“Its called the project of the Constitution now not the constitutional draft. I think it is a very good document, that honors Egypt after the revolution and its martyrs. It fulfilled most of the demands, however there some reservations that I have, that need to be discussed, such as the National Defense Council .. at the end of the day its all in the hands of the public. The real judge will be the people.”
12:45 Protesters in Tahrir chant “leave” and “the people want to bring down the regime,” as they finish prayers. The planned marches are expected to start setting off to Tahrir Square now.
12:30 Just off Tahrir Square, Ahram Online’s Zeinab El-Guindy describes the devastation left over from week long clashes between police and protesters:
“The square is almost empty now as private cleaning companies are now removing the remains of the street battles. The smell of tear gas remains strong around the area - the air stings. Protesters have also installed barbed wires to block entrance. Some of them are standing at the entrances to prevent further clashes, where the army built roadblocks in front of the US Embassy at the square. The damage from the clashes has reached the school attached to the Qasr El-Doubara church, its walls are partially destroyed and its windows broken. Groups of Christians are arriving at the church for the sermon, many of them carrying Egyptian flags.”
12:00 The subject of the Friday’s prayers on Tahrir Square is very much centred around the surprise vote on the constitution.
A sheikh leading the prayers tells protesters that the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists have tarnished Islamic Shari’a Law. He accused the Brotherhood of taking advantage of the “blood of the martyrs” of the revolution, in collaboration with the United States to secure themselves power.
11:45 “The constitution belongs in the garbage can of history,” said leading figure Mohamed ElBaradei in a televised interview with Egyptian private channel Al-Nahra, last night.
The draft nation charter, which has sparked uproar among the opposition forces, ElBaradei said was rushed and “not up to people’s expectations.” However, he did add that Morsi still has a chance to retreat and return the authorities he assumed in Thursday’s Constitutional Declaration back to the people.
11:30The security forces have been busy erecting barricades around Cairo’s flashpoint square ahead of today’s expected million-man protest, says Ahram Online's Zeinab El-Guindy on Tahrir.
“Protesters at the entrance checkpoints block traffic to Tahrir completely as they search incoming people into the square.
There is a new wall just off the square on Simon Bolivar near the US embassy. Surrounding the barricade is the wreckage of last night’s fierce battle between protesters and the police: I can see a burnout car, a smashed shop, broken up pavement and a lot of rocks strewn across the street.
The entrance to Mohamed Mahmoud Street, the site of many clashes between protesters and police in the past, has also been blocked off, with barbed wire fences.
Patriotic songs can be heard playing through the tents erected on the square's central garden - protesters have been camping out here since Friday last week, when Presdient Morsi released his decree.
Ahead of the marches that will converge on Tahrir following Friday noon prayers, a few hundred protesters are already in the square - the focus of dissent is now divided between the new draft constitution and Morsi’s contentious Constitutional Declaration.
Banners decorate the square - one popular slogan is a list of key demands: 'bread, freedom, bringing down the Constituent Assembly.'
The liberal Egyptian Social Democratic Party, part of the 'Revolution Salvation Front' a coalition of opposition forces behind the sit-in, also has a large sign reading "down with the unconstitutional declaration.”
The liberal Constitution party, meanwhile opted for the sign 'No to monopolising power'."
Above the anti-corruption “Shayfenkom” movement the banner reads 'no to the infringement on the independence of the judiciary' while a farmer rights group has a sign that says 'farmers are in Tahrir because they do not feel any change.'" ##
11:10 Dozens are already gathered on Tahrir for today's expected milion man protest. Fierce clashes between protesters and policecontinued through the night just off the flashpoint square on the Nile Corniche. In response, security forces erected another concrete security barrier in the early hours of the morning on near the American Embassy, walling in downtown Cairo.
11:07 Eleven Egyptian newspapers will not to publish their editions on Tuesday, and three privately owned satellite channels will not broadcast Wednesday in protest of the political events happening in Egypt, reports Reuters.
11:05 The subject of Egypt's draft national charter is expected to be the hot topic on Tahrir, together with Morsi's contentious Constitutional Declaration, as it was passed in the early hours of the morning, despite mass walkouts by liberal and leftist members.
Hossam El-Gheriany, head of the assembly, confirmed after the marathon session which ended in the early hours of Friday morning, that they had passed the national charter and would "call the president today at a reasonable hour to inform him that the assembly has finished its task and the project of the constitution is completed."
The president's critics see the Constitutional Declaration and the rushed draft charter as an attempt to push through the text which they say ahs been hijacked by the Brotherhood.
11:03 "There is no place for a dictatorship," President Mohamed Morsi said in a speech late last night in an attempt to reassure the nation ahead of a weekend of planned protests and growing unrest within the country.
The power grab, he said was "for an exceptional stage," and "will end as soon as the people vote on the constitution," Morsi told state television 10pm Thursday.
Morsi also reiterated that he was "very happy that Egypt has real political opposition," and stressed that the country need to attract investors and tourists to Egypt.
11:00Good morning, we are opening our live coverage of today's protests across Egypt. Dozens are already in Tahrir Square as part of the ongoing sit-in until President Mohamed Morsi rescinds his controversial Constitutional Declaration.
Thousands are expected to gather in Egypt's main squares Friday, in protest called by opposition forces against President Mohamed Morsi's "authoritarian" Controversial Declaration.
Egypt also wakes up to a new draft constitution, which was passed by the beleaguered Constituent Assembly in the early hours of the morning. Just 85 members sat for the marathon session, after mass resignations by liberal and leftists forces and the representatives of the church.
Leftist, liberal and independent political forces met Thursday at the headquarters of Egypt's Socialist Popular Alliance Party headquarters to discuss Friday's demonstrations. Attendees included the Constitution Part, the Popular Current Movement, the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, April 6 Youth Movement and the Maspero Youth coalition.
"The only way to break the current impasse is to listen to the pulse of the street," the opposition statement read, "as opposed to following a group that has attempted to steal the revolution."