“Residents of this Mediterranean coastal city burying their dead from Egypt’s wave of political violence vented their fury at Egypt’s Islamist president and the Muslim Brotherhood on Tuesday, demanding his ouster and virtually declaring a revolt against his rule, as the head of the military warned Egypt may collapse under the weight of its turmoil,” reports the Associated Press. “Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi’ strongly worded comments, his first since the crisis began, appeared aimed at pushing both sides in Egypt’s political divide to reconcile and find a solution to the rapidly spreading protests and riots across much of the country the past six days.”
More excerpts from the report:
- But his breaking of his silence falls heaviest on President Mohammed Morsi, who has been unable to contain the unrest by trying a tough hand, as protesters defied his declaration of a month-long state of emergency and curfew in Port Said and two neighboring cities. At least 60 people have been killed and hundreds injured since Thursday in clashes between police and protesters angry over what they call Islamists’ moves to monopolize power and failure to address the country’s multiple woes. In his comments, el-Sissi signaled the military would not move to put down protesters, saying troops are in a ‘grave predicament,’ forced to balance between ‘avoiding confrontation’ with citizens and protecting state institutions.
- Violence exploded in Port Said on Saturday, leaving more than 40 dead since. The provincial governor has gone into hiding. Police are hunkered down. Tanks are in the streets by government buildings, but army troops have balked at enforcing Morsi’s curfew order. Residents in all three cities flouted the restrictions with huge marches in the streets Monday and Tuesday night.
- “God wreak vengeance on Morsi, who gave the orders to shoot at the protesters of Port Said, the city that fought three countries,” said Ayman Mohammed Abdel-Fatah, holding a picture of a slain 22-year-old relative who he said was shot four times by police during protests outside Port Said’s prison.
- “As long as the president’s hands are stained in blood, he must leave,” said Mohammed el-Assfouri, a lawyer, standing outside the Mariam mosque where mourners prayed for the dead.
- Egypt’s unrest began Thursday and accelerated the following day when clashes erupted nationwide amid protests by the opposition marking the two-year anniversary of the start of the uprising that toppled Mubarak. Port Said’s violence was touched off Saturday when a court issued death sentences against 21 people — mostly local soccer fans — over a bloody soccer riot in the city a year ago. Youths infuriated by the verdicts marched in the streets and clashed with police at a police station and the prison.
- The opposition contends the crisis is caused by Brotherhood attempts to monopolize power and can only be resolved if it makes major concessions to loosen its grip, including forming a national unity government and rewriting contentious parts of the Islamist-backed constitution. The Brotherhood has dismissed those demands, and Morsi has instead invited the opposition to join a broad dialogue conference. The opposition has refused it as mere window dressing. The army chief’s comments suggested the military’s impatience with politicians’ power struggles.