Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

National and World

November 30, 2012

Egypt draft constitution sparks mass protest

CAIRO (AP) — Giant crowds of protesters packed Cairo's Tahrir Square and marched in other cities Friday vowing to stop a draft constitution that Islamist allies of President Mohammed Morsi approved hours earlier in a rushed, all-night session without the participation of liberals and Christians.

Anger at Morsi even spilled over into a mosque where the Islamist president joined weekly Friday prayers. In his sermon, the mosque's preacher compared Morsi to Islam's Prophet Muhammad, saying the prophet had enjoyed vast powers as leader, giving a precedent for the same to happen now.

"No to tyranny!" congregants chanted, interrupting the cleric. Morsi took to the podium and told the worshippers that he too objected to the language of the sheik and that one-man rule contradicts Islam.

Crowds of protesters marched from several locations in Cairo, converging in central Tahrir Square for the opposition's second mass rally in a week against Morsi. They chanted, "Constitution: Void!" and "The people want to bring down the regime" as fireworks went off.

The crowd appeared comparable in size to the more than 200,000 anti-Morsi protesters who thronged Tahrir on Tuesday. Tens of thousands more marched Friday in Alexandria and other cities.

In contrast to the largely leaderless uprising by youth activists against autocrat Hosni Mubarak last year, a more energized, cohesive leadership has started to emerge in the new campaign against Morsi, Egypt's first freely elected president. It is made up of a number of prominent liberal, secular and moderate Islamist politicians, notably reform advocate Mohamed ElBaradei.

"We are determined to continue with all peaceful means, whatever it takes to defend our legitimate rights," ElBaradei told the Tahrir crowd, saying the draft constitution must be voided.

His ally, senior opposition leader Hamdeen Sabbahi, vowed protests would go on until "we topple the constitution."

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