Some protesters in Egypt removed on Friday evening the barbed wire and barriers leading to the presidential palace in Cairo.
According to a report on the website of the Egyptian daily Al-Masry Al-Youm, the guards formed a human chain to block protesters from reaching the palace.
A number of marches had arrived in the area Friday afternoon and, according to Al-Masry Al-Youm, thousands participated. The protesters reportedly raised banners reading, “Leave, leave” and chanted slogans calling for toppling President Mohammed Morsi’s government over the sweeping powers he granted himself as well as a planned referendum on a controversial new constitution.
Both Morsi’s Islamist backers and the largely secular opposition have dug in their positions in the confrontation, raising the prospect of further escalation of the crisis rocking the Arab world’s most populous state.
In a speech on Thursday, Morsi sought to portray elements of the opposition as “thugs” allied to remnants of the regime of Hosni Mubarak, toppled in a February 2011 uprising.
He defended a decree issued two weeks ago giving him sweeping powers immune from judicial challenge, and vowed to push on with a December 15 referendum on a new constitution drafted by a panel dominated by his Islamist allies.
A grudging offer to sit down with the opposition for talks on Saturday was rebuffed by the National Salvation Front coalition ranged against him.
The Front accused the president of “dividing Egyptians between his ‘supporters of legitimacy’… and his opponents, whom he calls ‘thugs’.”
Demonstrators taking to Cairo’s streets said they were determined to stop Morsi, reported AFP.
The demonstrations seen this week were the biggest since Morsi took office in June. The street clashes were also reminiscent of the upheaval that accompanied Mubarak’s overthrow early last year.
At least four of Morsi’s advisers have quit over the crisis, and the Cairo stock market has taken a heavy hit, reported AFP.