In a nearly three-hour speech, Morsi called out adversaries by name — including officials associated with the regime of ousted autocrat Hosni Mubarak, current government officials, a judge and a television executive. He accused the media of spreading false information and promised to “cut” and “stop” enemies of the state, who he said were trying to undermine Egypt’s young democratic process.
Egyptians watching the speech said it was unlikely to quell the demonstrations.
“The people are tired and they’re fed up,” said Rifaat Hosni, a cafe owner who watched the speech wearily from his desk. “Everyone is even more angry now.”
On Wednesday, some demonstrators had gathered in Cairo’s Tahrir Square and outside the nation’s Defense Ministry, home to the military, which some Egyptians say they hope will take the reins of power from Morsi. Egypt’s defense minister signaled last weekend that the military would be prepared to intervene if violence spins out of control.
“Army, come down and take back our country,” read one banner that hung above traffic a few yards from the ministry’s gate.
Clashes broke out between Morsi’s supporters and opponents in the Nile Delta city of Mansoura earlier Wednesday, leaving two people dead and more than 200 injured, according to the state news service.
Opposition to Morsi, a former senior leader with the Muslim Brotherhood, has created bitter rifts in Egyptian society over the past six months. His Islamist backers have labeled an opposition movement born from the liberal elite, among them Mubarak loyalists, as sore losers in a democratic process. Each side accused the other of trying to monopolize power at the behest of foreign backers.
But as economic woes rise, frustration with Morsi has steadily seeped into a wider cross-section of Egyptian society. Morsi’s approval rating has dropped from 78 percent after his first 100 days in office to 42 percent last month, according to Baseera, an Egyptian research institution.
Gas lines have snaked around city blocks in recent days amid a mounting fuel shortage. Frustrated citizens screamed at one another on Wednesday as they waited in the June heat. Many blamed Morsi.
“I’m going to protest on Sunday at Ittihadiya,” Egypt’s presidential palace, said Khaled Abdel Nasser, a taxi driver who had waited for five hours for gas. “Everyone is going to Ittihadiya.”