Anti-government protests in Egypt closed in on the presidential palace in Cairo Tuesday, forcing President Mohammed Morsi to leave the building with armed guard in a story that is leading the Arab press on Wednesday.
“Egypt: Protesters besiege the presidential palace,” reads the headline of Saudi-owned daily A-Sharq Al-Awsat, displaying an image of demonstrators attempting to remove a barrier of barbed wire placed by the police around Ittihadiyah palace.
The daily claims that the opposition protest, dubbed “Last Warning,” has “surprised politicians and observers with its magnitude,” stretching, as it does, for kilometers across various cities.
“The problem with the Brotherhood is that they’ve lost their credibility among a large segment of Egyptians within a few months, due to their maneuvers, breaking of vows… and imposing their view through trickery or intimidation,” writes columnist Othman Mirghani.
“Egypt: ‘Last warning’ shakes the foundations of the presidential palace,” reads the headline of the London-based daily Al-Hayat.
‘The problem with the Brotherhood is that they’ve lost their credibility among a large segment of Egyptians within a few months due to their maneuvers, breaking of vows … and imposing their view through trickery or intimidation’
“The police could do nothing in the face of protesters but retreat into the palace after launching a barrage of teargas grenades to disperse the crowd that continued to advance… and call out ‘leave’ and ‘the people want to topple the regime.'”
Al-Hayat columnist Abdullah Iskandar writes that President Morsi has decided to hide behind a vague slogan in order to curb the country’s democratic character.
“The Egyptian president, along with his Islamist supporters, uses the phrase ‘defending the revolution’ in order to justify his decisions and moves,” claims Iskandar. “Through this malleable term, which can be interpreted in any way, he passes anything that serves the Islamists in power; starting with the constitutional and legal clauses and ending with removing ‘hostile’ officials from the centers of power.”
Al-Quds Al-Arabi, a London-based Arab nationalist daily, reports that Morsi was forced to leave the presidential palace through the back door on Tuesday night amid slogans reminiscent of the “January revolution” that deposed Hosni Mubarak.
“Egypt: Million-man protest besieges the presidential palace and demands Morsi’s departure,” reads the daily’s headline.
The paper’s editorial praises the fact that the demonstrations have not deteriorated into serious violence, and that protesters were not harmed by Egyptian security.
“All of Egypt, both in government and opposition, have displayed (at least so far) an exemplary lesson in democratic expression, dispelling fears expressed by many of bloody clashes or the eruption of a civil war leading the country into chaos and instability,” writes the editor, in an article titled “Egypt on the verge of the cliff.”
‘All of Egypt, both in government and opposition, has displayed (at least so far) an exemplary lesson in democratic expression, dispelling fears expressed by many of bloody clashes or the eruption of a civil war’
The editor goes on to criticize opposition protesters for demanding the departure of the elected president and for viewing all of his actions as absolute evil.
“This is a big mistake. That’s why some opposition leaders such as Hamdeen Sabahi and Ayman Nour, for example, stressed that the protests are intended to revoke the constitutional decree and not the elected president. This is an extremely important move which reflects political awareness of the risks of deterioration the country faces.”
Egyptian dailies are also largely critical of the president.
Al-Masry Al-Youm, its headline reading “the masses besiege the president’s palace,” reports that protesters hurled stones at Morsi’s motorcade as he left the palace Tuesday night, noting that the number of injured protesters in Cairo has reached 31, according to the Health Ministry.
Meanwhile, Muhammad Anwar Sadat, the son of Egypt’s slain president Anwar Sadat and the leader of a small opposition party called Reform and Development, calls on President Morsi to sack his advisers.
Sadat blaims Morsi’s mixed messages and conflicting statements on his aides, claiming that they should be chosen according to clear criteria of professionalism rather than political loyalty or nepotism, according to opposition daily Al-Wafd.