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Egyptians Surround Presidential Palace Protesting Draft Constitution

December 4, 2012 at 12:00 AM EDT
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GWEN IFILL: Protests surrounding Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi’s recent power grab and a hastily drafted constitution turned violent again today.

Jeffrey Brown reports.

JEFFREY BROWN: Police outside the presidential palace in Cairo retreated this evening after a crowd broke through their lines. Officers fired back with tear gas, but eventually allowed protesters to make their way to the palace gates. Some threw stones toward the building.

Security officials said President Mohammed Morsi left the palace as the demonstrations grew larger, reportedly to more than 100,000. Clashes like this have become commonplace in the last few weeks. They follow Morsi’s recent decree that expands his powers and a hastily drafted constitution put together by an Islamist-dominated committee.

ISRAA WAFID, protester (through translator): We won’t be able to speak. There won’t be a court that we can go talk to. He has made himself a fort, and he says it is a temporary fort.

This is something we cannot believe. We have spent 30 years being betrayed. We won’t believe Morsi. He will remain seated in the chair and not leave it.

JEFFREY BROWN: On another front, several of Egypt’s independent newspapers didn’t publish today, protesting what they called a lack of press freedoms in the proposed constitution.

In the meantime, Morsi supporters gathered earlier today outside the Supreme Constitutional Court also in Cairo, just one of a number of demonstrations they have held. A nationwide referendum on the constitution is set for Dec. 15.