The first sign of military intervention appeared in Cairo last night, as tanks, armoured cars and barricades were positioned in a bid to suppress continuing political protests in Egypt’s capital city.
It has not been confirmed whether the army were deployed by the President himself, the Muslim brotherhood supporting the president, or whether the army themselves have intervened to prevent further escalation of violence.
Tanks appeared just outside the presidential palace in Egypt, surrounded by members of the supporting Muslim brotherhood, leading many to assume the army presence was coordinated by the government.
Protests continue against President Morsi’s increase in excessive powers, and over the draft constitution passed by the Muslim Brotherhood last week that threatens political and religious freedoms, as well as the rights of women. A translation service confirms aspects of the constitution attack freedom of speech through journalism by dictating a heavy editing process by government officials, a call for women to keep their ‘family position,’ and freedom to practice religious rites only for the ‘divine religions,’ mentioned in the constitution.
Almost 10,000 demonstrators were present at the palace last night. Accusations by the opposition state that the Muslim brotherhood started the violence by sending in their supporters to break up demonstrations outside the palace. Reporters are accusing the Brotherhood of employing tactics used by former President Hosni Mubarak, who dispatched gangs of ‘thugs’ to attack and intimidate protesters.
Mohamed ElBaradei, Amr Moussa and members of the National Rescue Front place the blame for the violence firmly on the shoulders of the current president, who has been accused of creating a constitution that sets him up as a dictator.
The constitution will go to the public on December 15, but with Morsi’s new unquestionable powers decreed on November 22, Egyptians are worried for a return to dictatorial power and the type of oppression experienced before the revolution.
“I voted for Morsi to get rid of Hosni Mubarak. I now regret it,” shouted one protester towards a group of Muslim Brotherhood members invading the protest.
Seven out of seventeen government advisors have already resigned in the past week including Zaghloul El-Balshi, chief of the constitutional committee, who publicly resigned on an Egyptian television network last night saying:
“I will not participate in a referendum that spilled Egyptian blood, I call on Morsi to cancel the constitutional declaration immediately.”
Stone throwing continues to be the main form of attack, while fire bombs and gunfire have been reported during the protests in which more than 200 people have been injured. Unrest in other cities following the demonstration has surfaced in Ismailia and Suez, where Muslim Brotherhood offices are located.
President Morsi stated that he would relinquish his new powers when the constitution is approved, but after obtaining power through such a small margin, support for his decisions remains negligible.