The National Association for Change, a liberal activist group in Egypt, issued a statement Wednesday morning that called on the army to stand by protesters in pushing their demands.
‘My street is all rocks now’
Witnesses in the upscale neighborhood of Heliopolis described scenes of shifting “front lines,” flying stones and flames outside the palace Wednesday night, the chaos punctuated by the periodic crack of tear gas canisters from the riot police.
“My street is all rocks now. Every single car on my street has shattered windows,” said Sarah Wali, a business-development manager who watched the clashes from her balcony.
“The scary part is that a lot of this seems to be anger, and it doesn’t seem to have a point,” she said. “I don’t know how a president is sitting, not making announcements and not trying to calm things down.”
Morsi left the presidential palace Tuesday night amid protests outside. But a palace official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the president and his staff had returned to work on Wednesday.
“Egyptians will gather everywhere and use all viable means, and we will not end this battle we entered for freedom and dignity until we are victorious,” said Mohamed ElBaradei, a former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency and a leader of an opposition coalition calling itself the National Salvation Front.
Springborg, the professor, called the crisis a significant moment for the Muslim Brotherhood, which, he said, appears to be splitting over how to respond. Some within the administration see the protests as a chance to beat the opposition into submission, he said, while others, including Morsi, are advocating restraint.
Members of the opposition said they have yet to agree on how to proceed if the protests do not halt the government’s march toward a referendum.
Much of the country’s judiciary has come out against Morsi’s decree. But the Supreme Judicial Council said Monday that it would oversee the referendum as a way out of the political crisis, offering the possibility of legal credibility for the vote.
Ingy Hassieb in Cairo and Anne Gearan in Brussels contributed to this report.