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New protests in Tahrir Square as Egypt's Morsi grants himself broad powers

The Egyptian president's move brought opponents into the streets all across the country amidst fears that he may be seizing power through emergency orders similar to those of the previous regime.

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Mohammed ElBaradei and other opposition leaders join protesters in Tahrir Square, Cairo on Saturday. People have taken to the streets after Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi announced that he was assuming sweeping new powers.

Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Reuters

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Thousands of opponents of Egypt's Islamist president clashed with his supporters in cities across the country Friday, burning several offices of the Muslim Brotherhood, in the most violent and widespread protests since Mohammed Morsi came to power, sparked by his move to grant himself sweeping powers.

The violence, which left 100 people injured, reflected the increasingly dangerous polarization in Egypt over what course it will take nearly two years after the fall of autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

Critics of Morsi accused him of seizing dictatorial powers with his decrees a day earlier that make him immune to judicial oversight and give him authority to take any steps against "threats to the revolution". On Friday, the president spoke before a crowd of his supporters massed in front of his palace and said his edits were necessary to stop a "minority" that was trying to block the goals of the revolution.

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"There are weevils eating away at the nation of Egypt," he said, pointing to old regime loyalists he accused of using money to fuel instability and to members of the judiciary who work under the "umbrella" of the courts to "harm the country."

Clashes between his opponents and members of Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood erupted in several cities. In the Mediterranean city of Alexandria, anti-Morsi crowds attacked Brotherhood backers coming out of a mosque, raining stones and firecrackers on them. The Brothers held up prayer rugs to protect themselves and the two sides pelted each other with stones and chunks of marble, leaving at least 15 injured. The protesters then stormed a nearby Brotherhood office.

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