AFP, Cairo – Several hundred protesters rallied on Friday in Cairo against President Mohamed Morsy, a much smaller turn out than hoped for by activists bent on challenging the country’s first Islamist president.
In Cairo’s Tahrir Square, where hundreds of thousands rallied to overthrow president Hosni Mubarak early last year, several dozen of Morsi’s opponents briefly clashed with his supporters before withdrawing, witnesses said.
“Morsy has men backing him,” his victorious partisans chanted. Four people were injured in the clash, including three with birdshot wounds, the official MENA news agency quoted a field medic as saying.
In northern Cairo, about 200 protesters gathered near the presidency, which Morsy occupied since his inauguration in June, chanting “down with the Supreme Guide’s rule.”
They were referring to the leader of the influential Muslim Brotherhood, to which Morsy belongs.
The protests take place as Morsi, who assumed office amid a power struggle with the once-ruling military, consolidates his authority while two journalists critical of the president stand trial.
The protest organisers demanded that Morsy repeal an interim constitution in which he took over the military’s powers to legislate in the absence of parliament, which the army has dissolved shortly before his election.
He also sacked military chief Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi and other senior army officials who had ruled the country after Mubarak’s overthrow.
Brotherhood officials said they believed that the anti-Morsy protesters had hoped that the military would intervene against Morsy if mass protests broke out, repeating the scenario that forced Mubarak to resign.
The protest organisers appear to be a mix of ardent secularists and activists nostalgic for Mubarak’s rule, such as television station owner and show host Tawfiq Okasha, who faces trial next month.
Okasha, whose station has been banned from broadcasting, faces charges of trying to incite Morsy’s murder.
The trial of another journalist, Al-Dustour newspaper editor Islam Afifi, began on Thursday.
Afifi was briefly detained after the trial before Morsy, using his contested legislative authority, amended the law allowing detention pending a verdict for media crimes.