CAIRO: Fears mounted of a bloody showdown between supporters and opponents of Egypt’s Islamist President Mohamed Morsi on Friday after one activist was killed in the latest violence to cloud the Arab world’s most populous democracy.
Islamist groups called on their supporters to camp out indefinitely in a Cairo square two days before a planned protest by the mainly secular opposition to demand Morsi’s resignation just a year after he took office.
The Islamists charge that their opponents are undermining Egypt’s fledgling democracy less than two and a half years after the popular uprising that overthrew veteran strongman Hosni Mubarak.
Their opponents say that the president has reneged on his promise to rule for all Egyptians and has failed to deliver on the uprising’s aspirations for freedom and social justice.
The overnight violence erupted in the eastern part of the Nile Delta, north of the capital, Morsi’s own home province.
Rival demonstrators clashed outside offices of the Muslim Brotherhood’s political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), on whose platform the president won election last year.
The FJP said on its website that one of its supporters was killed. Thirty people were also wounded, the health ministry said.
The Muslim Brotherhood and its Islamist allies called on their supporters to mass outside the Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque in Cairo’s Nasr City district under the slogan “legitimacy is a red line.”
The Islamists charge that opposition demands for Morsi’s departure, barely a year after he won Egypt’s first freely contested election, amount to an attempted coup and accuse the opposition of sympathy with the ousted Mubarak.
The president himself warned in a televised speech on Wednesday that the growing polarisation between his fans and foes threatens to “paralyze” Egypt.
He pledged to consider constitutional reforms and appealed to the opposition to join talks.
It was his latest attempt to strike up a dialogue between political factions in a country deeply split between his Islamist allies and an opposition of leftists, liberals, Christians and some Muslim groups.