In the first significant protest against Egypt’s new Islamist rulers, several thousand people rallied at Cairo’s landmark Tahrir Square accusing President Mohamed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood of trying to monopolize power.
Chanting and waving banners, the demonstrators gathered Friday at the site of last year’s revolution that ousted Hosni Mubarak. In a show of defiance, they then marched to the presidential palace, AP reports.
The rally was largely made-up of supporters of the former regime, combined with those demanding Egypt remains a secular state. Some Egyptians see the armed forces as the defenders of secularism, fending off the increasingly powerful Islamists.
"The Muslim Brotherhood should not be above the Egyptian law," protester Mohamed Amin told AP. "They have to adhere to the Egyptian law pertaining to political parties, civil societies and associations by paying taxes."
Another demonstrator, Tamer Mohamed, said the protesters wanted the Islamists to have a reduced role in the country.
"The Muslim Brotherhood are invading every part of the country and the state has to be civil and not to be ruled by one sect," he said.
Meanwhile, another protest was staged in Alexandria, where scuffles erupted as supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood clashed with protesters rallying against them.
Despite being smaller than the demonstrations that ousted the former regime, Friday’s rally in Cairo was the biggest so far, that the new Islamic rulers have faced. It comes at a time when the government is struggling to rebuild the economy, after being badly damaged by last year’s unrest.