Referendum opponents, supporters prepare for mass demos

A state of calm prevailed in Tahrir Square Friday morning ahead of an anticipated mass protest titled "No to Referendum," which objects to conducting the referendum tomorrow without having reached national consensus.

The board of the Journalists Syndicate has called for a general assembly meeting at 3 pm, after which they are scheduled to march from the syndicate to Tahrir to denounce the killing of photojournalist Al-Husseini Abu Deif in the course of clashes in front of the presidential palace, and the practice of targeting journalists reporting on the conflict.

Secretary General of the Journalists Syndicate Karem Mahmoud said the board is following up on investigations into Abu Deif's death. The syndicate is determined to bring the perpetrators to justice, he said.

Abu Deif died after he was shot in the head during clashes by the presidential palace between Muslim Brotherhood members and President Mohamed Morsy's opposition.

The Muslim Brotherhood is also preparing for a mass protest in Nasr City in front of Rabaa al-Adaweya Mosque to support the draft constitution and referendum. Marches are planned from Al-Rahman Al-Rahim Mosque and Al-Rashdan Mosque to Rabaa al-Adaweya after Friday prayers. Jama’a al-Islamiya, the Salafi-led Nour Party youth and the Sharia Students Movement have all said they would take part in the marches. The Jihad Movement, meanwhile, stressed it would call on masses to rally at mosques.

Islamist leaders have issued statements threatening against any attempts to interfere with the referendum, declaring a 'yes' vote on the constitution is the only way out of chaos.

Deputy head of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party Essam al-Erian warned of thugs who might attempt to incite chaos during Friday protests by assaulting peaceful protesters.

"All throughout the transitional phase, the counter-revolution tried to flood the country with bloody chaos, and now after the opposition announced participation in the referendum by calling for a 'no' vote, we have to beware of the attempts of thugs to cause chaos on Friday, or to assault peaceful protesters. Each gathering has to protect its demonstrators from these criminals,” Erian wrote on his Facebook page on Thursday evening.

FJP leader Farid Ismail said both the Muslim Brotherhood and the FJP would seek stability by mobilizing to get the new constitution draft approved. He added that all parties have the right to organize human chains and marches to convince the public of their vision, whether they are with or against the constitution draft.  He called on political leaders to unite in order to get through the current crisis.

Jama’a al-Islamiya spokesperson Tarek al-Zomor said group members would rally and mobilize supporters nationwide for a 'yes' vote on the draft, saying that the constitution puts Egypt on the right path to achieve the revolution's objectives.

"We will educate people on the aspects of pride and power in the constitution [draft], despite having reservations about it,” Zomor said.

He expressed hope that Saturday, which he described as a "historic day," passes peacefully, noting that people will face attempts to fight against legitimacy.

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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