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March 31, 2023

Cairo braced for rival protests

At least nine people hurt in violent clashes Tuesday.

Egypt’s capital Cairo is steeling itself for rival rallies sparked by a referendum on a new constitution ordered by President Mohammed Morsi, the BBC reports. The demonstrations have been called by largely secular opposition groups and Islamists backing Mr Morsi. At least nine people were hurt early on Tuesday when shots were fired at opposition protesters in central Cairo. President Morsi has called in the army to maintain security and protect state institutions ahead of Saturday’s vote. The opposition wants the referendum scrapped, arguing that the constitution was drafted by an Islamist-dominated assembly, weakens human rights and fails to guarantee women’s rights. The president has tried to calm public anger by annulling a 22 November decree boosting his powers, but has given the army powers to arrest civilians over the next few days. However, some rulings of his controversial decree – which stripped the judiciary of any right to challenge his decisions – will stand. The general prosecutor, who was dismissed, will not be reinstated, and the retrial of former regime officials will go ahead. Petrol bombs were thrown and shots fired at opposition demonstrators camping in Tahrir Square in the early hours of Tuesday. Nine people received limb injuries from the unidentified attackers, while another protester suffered a head injury, Al-Misri al-Yawm newspaper reported. After the attack, police cars were deployed around the square for the first time this month. The destination of Tuesday’s opposition protests marches will be the presidential palace, the scene of earlier demonstrations which has now been surrounded with concrete blocks and ringed with tanks. An umbrella group calling itself the Alliance of Islamist Forces – made of Muslim Brotherhood and Salafist groups – was due to gather at two mosques in Nasser City, a suburb of Cairo.The Muslim Brotherhood was reportedly hoping for two “million-man” marches to converge in support of the referendum and the president, under the slogan: “Yes to legitimacy”.

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