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Tens of thousands of protesters took to Tahrir Square on Tuesday night to protest the Constitutional Declaration supplement that would drastically expand the military council's authority and limit the power of the coming president.
Hazem Salah Abu Ismail, the Salafi preacher who was disqualified from the presidential race in April, gave an inflammatory speech to protesters in the square, in which he described the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces as “rivals of the people,” calling on demonstrators to stay at the iconic site until the junta hands over power.
Abu Ismail said that the supplement to the interim constitution issued by the SCAF was akin to “military occupation.” He chanted, “Get out, get out!” and the masses repeated after him.
He said that he remained silent during the last few weeks out of respect for the presidential election. “Now, there is only one requirement: that the military council leaves immediately,” he said. “Otherwise, we shall take the powers the council gave itself, even if we have to die for it.”
“We will not allow the military to write the constitution,” he said. “Nor should the future of the country be in the hands of 20 people.
“The next president will not be a puppet, nor will the people be insects smashed by the feet of the military,” he said.
A number of MPs held a session in Tahrir Square Tuesday night after police stopped them from entering the Parliament building.
“The military council had no right to dissolve Parliament,” said FJP MP Mohamed al-Beltagy, adding that the Egyptian people are waiting for Mohamed Morsy, whom he already called the president-elect, to be sworn in in Tahrir Square.
A group of Muslim Brotherhood protesters from Suez joined the demonstration in Tahrir, chanting slogans against military council head Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi and for the martyrs of the 25 January revolution.
Demonstrators marching to Tahrir from Maspero, the state media building, chanted, “The army is in our heart, the military council is against us” and “We swear with the martyr’s blood to have a new revolution.”
The April 6 Youth Movement led a march from the Mostafa Mahmoud Mosque in Mohandiseen to Tahrir. April 6 spokesperson Mahmoud Afify told Al-Masy Al-Youm that the movement rejects the military council’s coup and the dissolution of Parliament.
Hundreds protested at the Parliament building near Tahrir, chanting, “Down with military rule” and “Legitimacy to Parliament.” Some MPs from the dissolved Parliament joined the protest.
Former MP Mohamed al-Omda told Al-Masry Al-Youm that the MPs demand that parliamentary sessions be held to continue on the democratic path.
A march from Cairo’s Ramses Square arrived in Tahrir Tuesday evening, as did a group of Egyptians from Assiut in Upper Egypt. They raised a banner reading, “The people of Assiut reject the dissolution of Parliament” and chanted slogans against military rule.
Muslim Brotherhood members began setting up a stage and a podium for the group, one of the main participants in the demonstration.
A number of political and revolutionary forces had called for the protest. The SCAF issued the Constitutional Declaration supplement as vote counting began for the presidential runoff on Sunday night.
Protesters carried Egyptian flags and chanted, “Down with military rule” and Speak up, don’t be afraid ... the SCAF must leave.”
Political groups participating in the protest — including the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, the Salafi Nour Party, the moderate Islamist Wasat Party, Jama’a al-Islamiya, the April 6 Youth Movement and the Revolutionary Socialists — also rejected the dissolution of Parliament and the Defense Ministry decree that allows military police to investigate and arrest civilians.
The Muslim Brotherhood mobilized thousands of its members from a number of governorates to participate in the protest.
In Sharqiya Governorate, bus stops were filled with people on their way to Cairo, while the Brotherhood provided a number of buses to transport people directly to Tahrir Square.
A Muslim Brotherhood leader in Sharqiya, Sayed Abdel Hamid, said the group “refuses the supplement to the Constitutional Declaration that prolongs the transitional period and strips away the next president’s powers.”
The FJP in Gharbiya Governorate also bussed people to Tahrir.
Mohamed al-Masry, the FJP’s secretary in the Upper Egyptian governorate of Sohag, said that some 5,000 members of the FJP, the Construction and Development Party and the Nour Party, as well as a number of revolutionary coalitions and various political forces in Aswan and Sohag, had travelled to Cairo in order to participate in the protest.
In Kafr al-Sheikh, Ayman Hegazi, an FJP spokesman, said that hundreds of Brotherhood members, along with members of other political movements, had gone to Cairo to join the protest in Tahrir.
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm