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Clashes in Egypt after president expands powers

November 24, 2012 • World News


Protesters storm an office of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood Freedom and Justice party and set fires in the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria, Egypt, Friday, Nov. 23, 2012. State TV says Morsi opponents also set fire to his party’s offices in the Suez Canal cities of Suez, Port Said and Ismailia. Opponents and supporters of Morsi clashed across Egypt on Friday, the day after the president granted himself sweeping new powers that critics fear can allow him to be a virtual dictator. (AP Photo/Amira Mortada, El Shorouk Newspaper) EGYPT OUT

CAIRO (AP) — Supporters and opponents of President Mohammed Morsi clashed Friday in the worst violence since he took office, while he defended a decision to give himself near-absolute power to root out what he called “weevils eating away at the nation of Egypt.”

The edicts by Morsi, which were issued Thursday, have turned months of growing polarization into an open battle between his Muslim Brotherhood and liberals who fear a new dictatorship. Some in the opposition, which has been divided and weakened, were now speaking of a sustained street campaign against the man who nearly five months ago became Egypt’s first freely elected president.

The unrest also underscored the struggle over the direction of Egypt’s turbulent passage nearly two years after a popular uprising toppled Hosni Mubarak’s authoritarian regime. Liberals and secular Egyptians accuse the Brotherhood of monopolizing power, dominating the writing of a new constitution and failing to tackle the country’s chronic economic and security problems.

“I don’t like, want or need to resort to exceptional measures, but I will if I see that my people, nation and the revolution of Egypt are in danger,” Morsi told thousands of his chanting supporters outside the presidential palace in Cairo.

But even before he spoke, thousands from each camp demonstrated in major cities, and violence broke out in several places, leaving at least 100 wounded, according to security officials.

Security forces pumped volleys of tear gas at thousands of pro-democracy protesters clashing with riot police on streets several Login to read more

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