Tensions rise ahead of protests in Egypt
Organizers of a mass protest against Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi claimed Saturday that more than 22 million people have signed their petition demanding the Islamist leader step down, asserting that the tally was a reflection of how much the public has turned against his rule.
The announcement adds to a sense of foreboding on the eve of opposition-led mass demonstrations that many fear could turn deadly and quickly spin out of control, dragging the country into a dangerous round of political violence.
The demonstrations planned for today reflect the growing polarization of the nation since Morsi took power, with the president and his Islamist allies in one camp and seculars, liberals, moderate Muslims and Christians on the other.
There is a sense among opponents and supporters of Morsi that today’s rally is a make-or-break day. The opposition feels empowered by the petition, known as Tamarod, or Rebel, but it offered no proof regarding the figures. If verified, it would mean that nearly double the number of people who voted for Morsi a year ago are now calling for him to step down.
Morsi’s supporters question the petitions, saying his opponents are led by members of the ousted regime of Hosni Mubarak who are trying to orchestrate a comeback and are instigating violence.