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Islamists rally behind Mursi as Egypt’s rifts widen

CAIRO — At least 200 000 Islamists demonstrated in Cairo yesterday in support of President Mohamed Mursi, who is rushing through a constitution to try to defuse opposition fury over his newly expanded powers.

Report by Reuters

“The people want the implementation of God’s law,” chanted flag-waving demonstrators, many of them bused in from the countryside, who choked streets leading to Cairo University, where Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood had called the protest.

The numbers swelled through the afternoon, peaking in the early evening at least 200 000, said witnesses, basing their estimates on previous Cairo rallies. The authorities declined to give an estimate for the crowd size.

Mursi was expected later in the day to set a date for a referendum on the constitution hastily approved by an Islamist-dominated drafting assembly on Friday after a 19-hour session.

“We will certainly present the constitution to the president tonight,” Mohamed al-Beltagy, a Muslim Brotherhood leader and a member of the constituent assembly, said.

Mursi plunged Egypt into a new crisis last week when he gave himself extensive powers and put his decisions beyond judicial challenge, saying this was a temporary measure to speed Egypt’s democratic transition until the new constitution is in place.

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