Egypt mass protests challenge Islamist president

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CAIRO (AP) – Opponents of Egypt’s Islamist president have made a show of strength in Cairo.

More than 200,000 people had flocked to Tahrir square by this evening to demand President Mohammed Morsi revoke decrees he issued last week granting him near autocratic powers. The protest was comparable in size to the daily rallies during last year’s 18-day uprising that toppled president Hosni Mubarak.

As the crowds swelled in the central square today, clashes erupted nearby between several hundred young protesters throwing stones and police firing tear gas.

Protesters accuse Morsi of trying to make himself an all-powerful ruler like Mubarak, but a top adviser to Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood says the president will not back down.

Morsi holds not only executive but also legislative authority and his edicts effectively neutralize the judiciary, which was the only branch of government in a position to balance his authority.

The edicts have energized the liberal and secular opposition and fueled broader anger over what critics see as the Brotherhood’s monopolizing of power after its election victories in the past year for parliament and the presidency.

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