Cairo (AsiaNews) - President Mohamed Morsi is pitting Egyptians against each other to stay in power. Recent clashes between anti-Morsi protesters and Islamists that left two people dead and 60 injured are evidence of that. Protests have been held in front of the Justice and Freedom party right after the president announced constitutional changes that would give him almost absolute powers. Until the new constitution is not announced, he could take any step deemed necessary to defend the revolution, national unity or national security. This is designed to protect the concentrate of power in the hands of the Muslim Brotherhood, which already controls parliament and the constituent assembly.
For the first time, Egyptians have seen clashes between Islamists and Egyptians that are in favour of democracy and a secular state. "In Alexandria, a great demonstration by liberal parties was attacked by the president's supporters. They thought their offices might be attacked so they reacted causing a street battle with some people wounded."
This is the first time that two components of Egyptian society are facing off for political reasons. "Divisions at the elite level have turned into street fights," he explained. "Actual fights were also reported in Cairo, Suez, Port Said and Tajera. This could eventually lead to a civil war."
Today, the judges are scheduled to meet the president to urge him to drop his constitutional amendments if he wants to avoid an even greater breakdown of the country. Yesterday, the Cairo Stock Exchange lost 9.9 per cent, one of its worst declines ever.
Should the president refuse, various judges associations have said that they would go on all-out strike. In some courts in the capital and Alexandria this has already happened.
For Nagui Damian, even many voters who chose Morsi have become disillusioned. "They have all come to realise the Muslim Brotherhood is full of liars. Instead of finding a solution to the economic crisis, in a few months they have used their power to take over every space in the territory, seize every crumb of power, from trade unions to government bureaus."
One running joke in the streets says, "Fortunately, the Copts have already elected their patriarch; otherwise, Morsi would have taken that one too."
Christians and Muslims who protested against Mubarak are also united against the Islamists. Various components of Egyptian society have come together in the past two days. Like in 2011, Egyptians have organised demonstrations irrespective of religious differences.
"People do not want Morsi to have all the power," Damian explained. "He is doing what his predecessors did-Nasser, Sadat and Mubarak-who used popular support to become "pharaohs" with full powers. However, they latter at least used a language that was close to the people. Morsi uses only Islam, constantly appealing to God, Muhammad and the Qu'ran, as if his role was protected from up high, that he was predestined. This is driving more and more people away from Islamist parties, including very devout Muslims."
The growing opposition to the Muslim Brotherhood, who won Egypt's first democratic elections in 2011 and 2012 and a gained a stranglehold over the constituent assembly, is becoming a greater reality even in non-political quarters.
Various opposition groups have emerged inside the powerful medical association, but also among teachers and lawyers.
Last night, journalists from the country's main newspapers met to discuss ways to cover the ongoing crisis objectively.
They pointed out that the Muslim Brotherhood's website does not mention demonstrations against the president, that it is silent about the stock exchange's plunge, and that it belittles international criticism of the president's actions, which are seriously threatening the country's transition to democracy. (S.C.)