Egypt’s opposition is considering calling for mass civil disobedience to protest against Mursi’s latest power grab, propped up by a proposed constitution drafted by a nearly exclusively Islamist constituent assembly.
Opposition leader and former presidential contender Hamadeen Sabbahi will likely make the move, which may include nation-wide strikes, on Tuesday, according to an Al-Akhbar correspondent.
Islamist crowds demonstrated in Cairo on Saturday in support of President Mohamed Mursi, waving Egyptian flags and green Islamist emblems to show their backing for the president and the constitution he is promoting.
The mass demonstrations follow week-long protests against Mursi, which culminated in a tens of thousands-strong protest in the iconic Tahrir Square in downtown Cairo Friday.
Mursi was expected later in the day to set a date for a referendum on the constitution hastily approved by an Islamist-dominated drafting assembly on Friday after a 19-hour session.
Mohamed Ibrahim, a hardline Salafi Islamist scholar and a member of the constituent assembly, said secular-minded Egyptians had been in a losing battle from the start.
«They will be sure of complete popular defeat today in a mass Egyptian protest that says ‘no to the conspiratorial minority, no to destructive directions and yes for stability and sharia (Islamic law)’,» he told Reuters.
Demonstrators, many of them bussed in from the countryside, held pro-constitution banners. Some read «Islam is coming», «Yes to stability» and «No to corruption».
Tens of thousands of Egyptians had protested against Mursi on Friday and rival demonstrators threw stones after dark in Alexandria and the Nile Delta town of Al-Mahalla Al-Kobra.
«The people want to bring down the regime,» they chanted in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, echoing the slogan that rang out there less than two years ago and brought down Hosni Mubarak.
Mursi plunged Egypt into a new crisis last week when he gave himself extensive powers and put his decisions beyond judicial challenge, saying this was a temporary measure to speed Egypt’s democratic transition until the new constitution is in place.
His assertion of authority in a decree issued on Nov. 22, a day after he won world praise for brokering a Gaza truce between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist Hamas movement, dismayed his opponents and widened divisions among Egypt’s 83 million people.
Two people have been killed and hundreds wounded in protests by disparate opposition forces drawn together and re-energized by a decree they see as a dictatorial power grab.