Cairo - Egyptian Islamist parties are set to begin an
open-ended demonstration on Friday in support of President Mohamed Morsi, two
days before planned rallies against him, highlighting the country's deep
An alliance of Islamist parties and groups called the
rallies outside the Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque in Cairo's Nasr City district under
the slogan "legitimacy is a red line".
Morsi's legitimacy is at the heart of protests both for and
His supporters say he derives his authority from the first
free presidential election in Egypt's history, and that the challenges he faces
- corrupt and inefficient institutions, economic troubles and religious
tensions - were inherited.
But his critics see him as a Muslim Brotherhood delegate,
favouring Islamists in key positions and returning the country to
Last week, tens of thousands of Islamists gathered in a show
of strength, chanting for Morsi and Islamic law and calling the turnout proof
that he enjoys mass support.
The Islamists accuse the opposition of being remnants of ousted
president Hosni Mubarak's regime and of seeking to sow chaos.
That accusation was repeated by Morsi in a televised speech
on Wednesday, when he warned that political polarisation threatened to
He pledged to look into constitutional reforms and also
reached out to the opposition again for talks.
It was his latest attempt to strike up a dialogue between
political factions in a country deeply split between his Islamist allies and an
opposition of leftists, liberals, Christians as well as religious Muslims.
Early presidential election
But late on Thursday, the opposition National Salvation
Front coalition rejected the appeal for dialogue and called instead for an
early presidential election.
Since taking office a year ago, Morsi has squared off
against the judiciary, media, police and even artists.
However, he has admitted making mistakes and vowed to
"I have made many mistakes, there is no question.
Mistakes can happen, but they need to be corrected," he said.
But he also warned the media against misusing the freedoms
the 2011 revolution has granted them.
"One year is enough!" he said in reference to the
repeated criticism against him.
The judiciary on Thursday prevented the owner of a
television channel that hosts a hugely popular satire show from leaving Egypt.
Mohammed al-Amin, owner of CBC television, faces charges of
tax evasion, and Morsi singled him out by name in Wednesday's speech.
Egypt's powerful army, which has been on the sidelines since
Morsi's election, warned it would intervene if violence breaks out.
It has brought in reinforcements to key cities in order to
protect vital establishments in case unrest erupts, security officials said.
In Cairo, residents are withdrawing cash and stocking up on
food, and many companies have said they will close on Sunday, the first day of
the working week in Egypt.
Fuel shortages have seen cars queuing overnight outside
petrol stations, bringing parts of the city to a standstill and adding to the