- Middle East/North Africa
Some protesters removed the barbed wire and barriers Republican Guard forces had set up on Merghany Street leading to the presidential palace in Heliopolis on Friday evening.
The guards formed a human chain to block protesters from reaching the palace and told reporters that the president is not inside.
One officer addressed protesters through a speaker, saying, “We are here to protect the legitimacy represented by you. We don’t carry weapons or sticks.” Other officers went into the crowd trying to convince them to move back.
A number of marches had arrived in the area Friday afternoon from the Korba, Roxy and Khalifa al-Maamoun areas in Heliopolis, the Nour Mosque in Abbasseya and the Raba’a al-Adaweya Mosque in Nasr City.
Al-Masry Al-Youm reported that thousands participated in the marches. Protesters raised banners reading, “Leave, leave” and chanted slogans calling for toppling President Mohamed Morsy’s government.
Protests against Morsy started after his 22 November constitutional declaration granting himself broad powers, and the rapid completion of a draft constitution and the upcoming 15 December referendum on it have served as further catalysts for protests.
Political activist Mamdouh Hamza, accompanied by a truck loaded with loudspeakers, also arrived at the palace, and protesters hung the loudspeakers on light posts. According to state-run Al-Ahram newspaper’s website, a number of protesters removed the barbed wire set up by the Presidential Guards and got closer to the palace, which the guards allowed.
Guards said that they would not clash with the protesters so long as the demonstration remains peaceful.
A march from Tahrir Square to the presidential palace was joined by another one that began at Fatah Mosque in Ramses Square. Other protests started in Sayeda Zeinab and Matareya.
Hundreds marched from Mostafa Mahmoud Mosque in Mohandiseen to the presidential palace to participate in the demonstration, dubbed “Red Card,” a reference to a football penalty removing players from the game.
The Constitution Party and the Popular Current participated in the march. “This afternoon, Morsy is out of the palace” and “O Brother, you are the second NDP [Hosni Mubarak’s National Democratic Party],” they chanted.
The protesters carried banners saying, “Leave.” One of the them raised an image of a bearded man sitting on the word “revolution,” a reference to the belief that Islamists hijacked the revolution. A number of cars and passersby waved Egyptian flags and victory signs to encourage the protesters. Two ambulances accompanied the march.
A number of demonstrators congregated Friday morning in front of the concrete wall constructed by security forces on Merghany Street, intended to prevent protesters from approaching the palace, state-run news service MENA reported.
Others gathered in front of the barbed wire on Ibrahim Allaqani Street near the palace, as the Presidential Guards and Central Security Forces intensified their presence at the back entrances to the palace.
The Presidential Guards set up barbed wire around the vicinity of the palace Thursday night, in addition to putting up the wall on Merghany Street, the main street leading to the palace.