Pro-Morsi rally planned in Cairo
Egypt's Islamist Coalition on Thursday announced plans to stage a million-man rally at the Rabaa Al-Adawiya Mosque in Cairo's Madinet Nasr district on Friday [today] in support of President Mohamed Morsi's "democratic legitimacy" and Egypt's draft constitution.
In a Thursday statement, Gamaa Islamiya, one of the coalition's member groups, declared that it would participate in the rally, both to voice support for President Morsi and call for a 'yes' vote in an upcoming constitutional referendum.
According to Muslim Brotherhood Secretary-General Mahmoud Hussein, Friday's rally will begin at 10am in the public square outside the landmark mosque.
Egypt is currently divided between Islamist parties and groups that support the draft constitution and liberal, leftist and nationalist parties and movements that are calling for a 'no' vote in Saturday's poll.
The proposed charter is seen by the opposition as having been drafted by an unrepresentative Constituent Assembly dominated by Islamist members. Before it approved the draft constitution, the assembly suffered several high-profile withdrawals by representatives of Egypt's Coptic Church, journalists syndicate, workers and farmers and other independent figures.
The unprecedented polarisation has led to several mass rallies by both camps, most recently on Tuesday when the president's supporters (who also support the draft charter) gathered in Cairo's Nasr City district while the opposition rallied at the nearby presidential palace. Tens of thousands turned out for both demonstrations.
On Wednesday, bloody clashes erupted at the presidential palace when the president's supporters forcefully dispersed a sit-in being held by opposition protesters. The ensuing violence left ten dead and over 700 injured from both sides.
The National Salvation Front (NSF) – a recently formed umbrella group comprising liberal, leftist, nationalist and independent groups – had initially called for the poll to be postponed until a "consensus constitution" could be drafted. Now that the referendum looks set to be held on schedule, however, the NSF is urging the public to vote against the proposed charter.
On Thursday, however, the NSF stressed that it would not accept poll results unless it had certain guarantees that the voting would be conducted fairly and transparently.