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Egypt's Second Revolution

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Morsi Flees Presidential Palace

December 4th 2012

Tahrir Square protest

Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi has fled the presidential palace as crowd violence ignited between police and more than 100,000 protesters jammed the streets of Cairo, according to breaking media reports.

Fox reports, "In a brief outburst, police fired tear gas to stop protesters approaching the palace in the capital's Heliopolis district. Morsi was in the palace conducting business as usual while the protesters gathered outside. But he left for home through a back door when the crowds "grew bigger," according to a presidential official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media." The outlet adds, "The official said Morsi left on the advice of security officials at the palace and to head off 'possible dangers' and to calm protesters." Morsi's spokesman claimed the president left routinely at the end of his work day through his usual door.

According to Fox, "The violence erupted when protesters pushed aside a barricade topped with barbed wire several hundred yards from the palace walls. Police fired tear gas, and then retreated. With that barricade removed, protesters moved closer to the palace's walls, with police apparently choosing not to try and push the crowds back. Soon afterwards, police abandoned the rest of the barricades, allowing the crowds to surge ahead to the walls of the palace complex. But there were no attempts to storm the palace, guarded inside by the army's Republican Guard."

The brief outburst of violence left 18 people injured, none seriously, the official MENA news agency reported.

The Wall Street Journal reported, "Thousands of riot police who formed cordons around the palace earlier in the day tried to fight off the crowds with truncheons and blankets of tear gas. But they beat a retreat behind the palace's formidable walls as the protests swelled into the tens of thousands. If protestors breach the walls and storm the presidential palace, it would mark a dramatic escalation in a political standoff between President Mohammed Morsi and his Islamist allies and Egypt's non-Islamist opposition ranks."

Egypt has been in upheaval since President Mohammed Morsi signed a decree granting himself nearly unrestricted powers, kicking off the largest anti-government demonstrations since the last weeks of ousted President Hosni Mubarak's regime. More than 200,000 protesters gathered in Cairo's Tahrir Square a week ago and a comparable number on Friday. But even during the prior regime, protesters never breached the walls of the Presidential Palace. The explosive atmopshere was only exacerbated after a draft constitution was hurriedly adopted by his allies. Past midnight Cairo time, agitated throngs across Cairo and its second Alexandria were still roiling.

As the mob swelled, protesters commandeered two police vans, climbing atop the armored vehicles to jubilantly wave Egypt's red, white and black flag and chant against Morsi, according to Fox. Two hours later, protesters uniformed riot police seemed to be flowing as one, waving flags and exhorting calls for Morsi to resign, or "erhal, erhal," Arabic for "leave, leave."

In the second city Alexandria, about 10,000 protestors came together chanting slogans against both Morsi and his Islamic fundamentalist group, the Muslim Brotherhood. These protests were dubbed "The Last Warning" by organizers amid rising anger over the draft charter and decrees issued by Morsi giving himself sweeping powers that placed him above judicial oversight. Morsi called for a nationwide referendum on the draft constitution on December 15. The charter has been criticized for not protecting the rights of women and minority groups, and many journalists see it as restricting freedom of expression. Critics also say it empowers Islamic religious clerics by giving them a say over legislation, while some articles were seen as tailored to get rid of Islamists' enemies.

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