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Friday
Dec072012

Egypt (and Beyond) Live Coverage: Morsi Defies Protesters and Warns "Infiltrators"

The protest in front of the Presidential Palace tonight

See also Syria Live Coverage: Is This the End for Assad?
Thursday's Egypt, Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: Protests and Fighting at the Presidential Palace


See also Syria Live Coverage: Is This the End for Assad?
Thursday's Egypt, Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: Protests and Fighting at the Presidential Palace


2125 GMT: Egypt. Hundreds or anti-Morsi demonstrators in Alexandria reportedly ransacked the Governorate’s headquarters, protesting the killing of protesters by "armed militias affiliated to the Muslim Brotherhood".

Minutes later, a group of men wielding firearms and bladed weapons chased the demonstrators out of the building.

The headquarters of the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party in Zagazig was raided by protesters amid clashes in the city, including in front of President Morsi's house.

2009 GMT: Bahrain. The Crown Prince of Bahrain, regarded by many in the West as a moderate voice, has said his country "will never forget [the] support" given by Saudi Arabia last year.

In March 2011, forces of Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Cooperation Council countries entered Bahrain to help the ruling family suppress a popular uprising.

The Crown Prince also said Bahraini officials "particularly thank" Britain for their support, as well as the UAE. As one observer noted, the US was not mentioned or thanked.

2005 GMT: Egypt. The leader of the opposition National Salvation Front, Mohamed ElBaradei, has called on President Morsi to withdraw the draft Constitutional “tonight” and to postpone the referendum until national consensus is achieved: “I ask President Morsi in the name of the Egyptian conscience to heed these two demands tonight. I am betting on president Morsi’s patriotism.”

1945 GMT: Egypt. The Muslim Brotherhood sends out another warning on Twitter:

Pressed to explain, the Muslim Brotherhood elaborates on the foreign menace:

1851 GMT: Egypt. The Head of the Supreme Electoral Commission, Samir Abu El-Maati, has confirmed that the voting of Egyptian expatriates in the Constitution referendum has been postponed from tomorrow to Wednesday.

1836 GMT: Bahrain. Journalists march with photos of their colleague El-Hosseini Abul-Deif, clincally dead after being shot during Wednesday's fighting outside the Presidential Palace:

1829 GMT: Bahrain. Footage of today's opposition rally, led by political society Al Wefaq:

1809 GMT: Egypt. "Down with Morsi" graffiti on an armoured vehicle of the Republican Guards:

1757 GMT: Egypt. Salma Shukrallah of Ahram Online reports from the Presidential Palace:

Tens of thousands are celebrating entrance past the barbed wires, cheering with drums and singing “the revolution is back again.

Fireworks have also been shot into the air as protesters continue chanting "The people want the fall of the regime," "Leave [Erhal]," and "Free revolutionaries will finish their path."

1747 GMT: Egypt. Minister of Justice Ahmed Mekki has said President Morsi may be willing to suspend the vote on the draft Constitution, scheduled for 15 December: “The president is ready to talk with political figures without any preconditions. He is open to the idea of postponing the referendum to reach consensus over the contentious articles. He is ready for that even if it means the constitution will return to the assembly.”

1743 GMT: Egypt. Republican Guards have allowed protesters to approach the Presidential Palace after the demonstrators began breaking through barbed wire and barricades.

1736 GMT: Egypt. Claimed footage of the clashes today in front of President Morsi's house in his hometown of Zagazig:

1704 GMT: Egypt. Clashes are reported in Kom Hamada in the Nile Delta Governorate of Beheira, with at least 16 people injured so far.

The fighting began after anti-Morsi demonstrators reportedly attempted to break into the local Muslim Brotherhood headquarters.

1654 GMT: Egypt. The Muslim Brotherhood issues a warning:

And follows this with attempted reassurance:

1630 GMT: Egypt. Security forces have been deployed in Zagazig, President Morsi's hometown, after dozens of opposition protesters threw rocks at Morsi’s house and police fired tear gas to disperse them. Several protesters were taken to hospital suffering from tear gas inhalation.

Four people were reportedly injured in clashes in the northern Delta city of Kafr El-Sheikh, as about 1000 opposition protesters tried to vandalise the local Muslim Brotherhood headquarters and were confronted by about 200 Brotherhood supporters.

1600 GMT: Egypt. Anti-Morsi crowds are gathering in front of the Presidential Palace, with reports of attempts to take down barbed wire, even as Republican Guards watch.

Protests are also reported in Mansoura, Mahalla, and Tanta.

1550 GMT: Egypt. Hamdeen Sabbahi --- former Presidential candidate and leading member of the National Salvation Front --- has told protesters in Tahrir Square that he is committed to a boycott of President Morsi's call for national dialogue.

“Mohamed Morsy calls on us to have a dialogue, and you are the decision makers. Should we go for dialogue or not?” Sabbahi asked the crowd.

The protesters chanted in response, “The people want to topple the regime.”

Sabbahi continued, “The protesters in Tahrir Square last Friday demanded the cancellation of the [new] Constitutional declaration, but after the bloodshed we won’t put our hands in those of the one who killed new martyrs in this country.”

He condemned attacks the offices of the Muslim Brotherhood, “We don’t use bullets, we condemn whoever shoots any Egyptian even if he/she was a member of the group [Brotherhood]."

1510 GMT: Qatar. Two activists were deported on Thursday after calling for Qatar leadership on tackling climate change, as it hosted UN talks in Doha.

Libyan Raied Gheblawi, 22, and Algerian Mohamed Anis Amirouche, 19, held up a banner in the conference hall's central meeting point, "Qatar, Why Host Not Lead?"

Both were stripped of their badges and asked to leave the hall, return to their hotels, and be at the airport no later than midnight.

1430 GMT: Gaza. Another soundbite from visit of Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal to Gaza --- telling the crowds that his next visit would be to Jerusalem, Ramallah and all of Palestine, Meshal said, "I have been dreaming of this historic moment my entire life, to come to Gaza. I ask God to give me martyrdom one day on this land."

1357 GMT: Israel. Human Rights Watch has criticised Israel for its “illegal” air strikes on Gaza which killed 12 members of the Dalou family: "Attacks in which the expected civilian loss exceeds the anticipated military gain are serious violations of the laws of war."

1349 GMT: Israel. The Palestinian Authority has reporteldy succeeded in impeding the attempt by several members of the US Congress to amend the National Defense Budget to punish Palestine's recognition as an Observer State by the United Nations.

The proposed measures included withdrawal of funding to UN agencies, curbing of financial aid to the Palestinian Authority if they sought accession to the International Criminal Court, and even closure of the Palestine Liberation Organization mission in Washington.

In response, Maen Rashid Erekat, head of the PLO mission to the US, said:

Why they should even think about "punishing" the Palestinians for going to the UN, which is a legitimate platform? Every nation has a right to go to the UN to pursue the interest of its people. We believe that cutting aid or severing the political ties with PLO is not going to serve the interest of the U.S. We are not getting any aid from the US in the last year - 2012 we didn't receive a penny from the US, all the money, 495 million, has been earmarked. We have not received one single dollar from the U.S., so basically, the U.S. is not giving us any single dollar right now. I think these sanctions will be counterproductive to the US before anybody else.

1339 GMT: Egypt. Marches challenging President Morsi throughout Cairo are looking to converge on the Presidential Palace:

1309 GMT: Egypt. A Muslim Brotherhood march for some of those killed in this week's clashes:

The gathering was addressed by senior Brotherhood figure Mohamed El Beltagy, who later told Al Jazeera English's Sherine Tadros, "The President has gone as far as possible and the ball is in the opposition's court."

1239 GMT: Egypt. The Muslim Brotherhood has held the Ministry of Interior responsible for Thursday's sacking of its Cairo headquarters.

Brotherhood Secretary General Mahmoud Hussein said the headquarters was raided because of the "security forces' reluctance to confront attackers".

About 3500 protesters broke into the headquarters, threw the building's contents into the street, and set them on fire. The building houses the office of the Guidance Bureau, the group's highest executive authority.

1219 GMT: Palestine. After entering Gaza for the first time in his life, Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal kissed the ground and said to the media: "In a statement to the media, he said: "I consider this moment my third birth [after his birth in 1956 and his survival of an Israeli assassination attempt in 1997], and I pray to God that my fourth birth will be the moment when all of Palestine is liberated. Gaza has always been in my heart."

1212 GMT: Egypt. More rebuffs of President Morsi's proposal for discussions....

Leading member Ahmed Said has confirmed, "The National Salvation Front is not taking part in the dialogue, that is the official stance."

The Front's Mohamed El-Baradei rejected dialogue based on "arm-twisting", and the liberal Wafd party also said it would not take part.

1146 GMT: Egypt. The new opposition coalition has turned down the President's offer of discussion:

1133 GMT: Palestine. Hamas political leader Khaled Meshaal has arrived in the Gaza Strip for the first time.

Meshaall was based for many years in Damascus before moving his offices to Cairo and Doha this year.

1001 GMT: Egypt. Robert Mackey of The New York Times summarises a moment capturing the "clash of cultures" in front of the Presidential Palace:

On Thursday, opposition activists pointed to a single frame of video that seemed to them to encapsulate the threat they face from the president’s Islamist supporters. The frame, taken from raw footage of secularist protesters being chased from the palace walls by Islamists chanting “Morsi! Morsi!” showed a man clapping his hand over the mouth of a veteran female activist, Shahenda Maklad.

On Thursday, opposition activists pointed to a single frame of video that seemed to them to encapsulate the threat they face from the president’s Islamist supporters. The frame, taken from raw footage of secularist protesters being chased from the palace walls by Islamists chanting “Morsi! Morsi!” showed a man clapping his hand over the mouth of a veteran female activist, Shahenda Maklad.

0923 GMT: Lebanon. Clashes have eased this morning in the northern port city of Tripoli after some of the fiercest fighting in weeks of conflict between supporters and opponents of the Syrian regime.

The death toll is now nine, with 70 wounded.

0710 GMT: Egypt. In a long-awaited speech, following two weeks of protest and Wednesday's clashes near the Presidential Palace, President Morsi defied calls to revoke the decrees expanding his powers and to postpone a referendum on a draft Constitution.

Morsi said he wanted dialogue, going as far as to declare a meeting for all outside the Presidential Palace on Saturday afternoon, but most of his speech was a challenge to his opposition. 

The President said he was acting in the interest of all --- there was no difference between the rights of his supporters and those of his opponents --- and had to retain his powers because of the recent violence, although he would relinquish them once the referendum on the Constitution was held.

Most striking was Morsi's assertion that the fighting was largely due to "infiltators", funded by groups inside and outside Egypt. Those lines prompted the worried interpretation that the President was putting out a warning to leading opposition politicians, including those behind the new National Salvation Front.

More protests are expected today. The "April 6 Movement, which played a prominent role in the uprising against former President Hosni Mubarak, said  the rallies would deliver a "red card" to Morsi.

Seven people were killed overnight and more than 770 were injured in eight hours of clashes outside the Presidential Palace on Wednesday.

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