Muslim Brotherhood offices set afire after Egyptian president grants himself sweeping powers
'Political stability, social stability and economic stability are what I want and that is what I am working for,' Morsi declares
The offices of the Muslim Brotherhood, the party of new Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi, were set on fire as he granted himself new sweeping powers over the African nation. As anti-Morsi demonstrators set fire to Muslim Brotherhood offices in cities across Egypt, Morsi defended his recent actions.
Thousands of demonstrators gathered in Cairo's Tahrir Square, calling upon Egyptian opposition leaders for a "million-man march" to protest against what they called a "coup" by the Islamist president.
"I have always been, and still am, and will always be, God willing, with the pulse of the people, what the people want, with clear legitimacy" he said from a podium before thousands of supporters.
In a striking move that echoed the iron grip of his predecessors, Morsi issued a presidential decree stating that any challenges to his decrees, laws and decisions were banned.
In response, thousands of demonstrators gathered in Cairo's Tahrir Square, calling upon Egyptian opposition leaders for a "million-man march" to protest against what they called a "coup" by the Islamist president.
Crowds started pouring into Cairo's most symbolic square in the afternoon, the numbers swelling until the Friday noon prayers ended.
Demonstrations for and against Morsi have exposed the deep divisions in the world's most populous Arab nation five months after Morsi was elected with a 51 percent sliver of a majority.
Clashes between pro-and anti-Morsi demonstrators broke out in the northern port city of Alexandria, as well as Port Said and Ismailia.
The drastic gesture on the part of Morsi's latest decree has raised serious concerns among the international community. The European Union urged Morsi to respect the democratic process. "It is of utmost importance that democratic process be completed in accordance with the commitments undertaken by the Egyptian leadership," a statement issued by E.U. foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton's office read.
A spokesman for United Nations Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay also said the organization was "very concerned about the possible huge ramifications of this declaration on human rights and the rule of law in Egypt."
Morsi had previously won high praise from the international community for his brokering of the Israel-Hamas ceasefire, which ended eight days of fierce fighting that killed more than 160 Gazans and six Israelis.
There has been increasing alarm over Morsi's declaration that no court could dissolve the country's Constituent Assembly, which is drawing up a new Egyptian constitution.
The rewriting of the new constitution has been a controversial issue, with most non-Islamist members quitting the Constituent Assembly - including representatives of the Coptic Christian Church and the April 6 Youth Movement, which played an influential role in the 2011 ouster of former President Hosni Mubarak.
© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM
Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2014
Respect for Women: That all cultures may respect the rights and dignity of women.
Vocations: That many young people may accept the Lordís invitation to consecrate their lives to proclaiming the Gospel.
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