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Egyptians accuse President Morsi of rewriting rules of democracy

President Morsi's decree this week drew accusations that he was returning Egypt to the days of the Mubarak regime, but he defended his decision as an effort to protect the revolution. 

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Protesters stand outside the Supreme Judicial Council building in Cairo, Egypt. Thousands have taken to the streets after Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi assumed sweeping new powers.

Asmaa Waguih/Reuters

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Thousands of Egyptians poured into the streets around Egypt yesterday to protest a decree by President Mohamed Morsi that sidelines Egypt's judiciary, ensures the survival of a disputed constitution drafting assembly, and removes nearly all checks to his power until a new constitution is written.

Protesters clashed with the president's supporters in some cities, and attacked and burned local headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, also the party of President Morsi, in at least two cities. In Cairo, thousands of people filled Tahrir Square to voice their anger at what they viewed as a dictatorial power grab.

Protesters shouted slogans familiar from the days of the 2011 uprising against former president Hosni Mubarak, and expressed fear that Morsi was amassing power that would turn him into the type of authoritarian leader they had revolted against last year.  

"Morsi will become a new dictator," said Ahmed Abd Rabou, an accountant who came to Tahrir to protest the president's decree, as he watched police fire tear gas at some demonstrators. "He wants to make himself a new pharaoh in Egypt."

On the other side of the city, thousands of people gathered at the presidential palace to support the president's decision. He made an appearance at the crowd, telling his supporters that he had done what was necessary to protect the revolution. "There are weevils eating away at the nation of Egypt," he said.

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