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Pics: Clashes as Egyptians take to Tahrir Square in their thousands... again

Egyptian police fired tear gas at protesters camped out in the Cairo square this morning as demonstrations against a power grab by President Mohamed Morsi took place across the country.

EGYPTIAN POLICE HAVE reportedly fired tear gas into Cairo’s Tahrir Square, where several hundred protesters spent the night after a mass rally to denounce President Mohamed Morsi’s assumption of expanded powers.

Clashes that have been erupting on streets just off Tahrir spilled into the square this morning, with canisters falling into the crowd forcing protesters to run and sending clouds of tear gas over the tents housing the demonstrators, television images showed.

Tens of thousands have packed Tahrir Square to protest a power grab by Morsi, piling pressure on Egypt’s Islamist president as he faces his most divisive crisis since taking power in June.

The huge turnout in the iconic square in the heart of Cairo, as well as in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria and most of Egypt’s 27 provinces on Tuesday, marked the largest mobilisation yet against the president.

Elsewhere in the country, protesters enraged by Morsi’s decision to grant himself sweeping powers attacked three regional headquarters belonging to the president’s Muslim Brotherhood movement, a security official said.

In Tahrir, protesters who had voted for Morsi in the election joined forces with die-hard opponents of the Islamist.

“I’m here to protest Morsi’s autocratic decisions,” said Mohammed Rashwan, an engineering graduate who voted for Morsi in the country’s first presidential election since a popular uprising toppled Hosni Mubarak last year.

Pics: Clashes as Egyptians take to Tahrir Square in their thousands... again
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The Egyptian protesters are angry at the decree that Morsi announced last Thursday allowing him to “issue any decision or law that is final and not subject to appeal”, which effectively placed him beyond judicial oversight.

The decree put him on a collision course with the judiciary and consolidated the long-divided opposition which accuses him of taking on dictatorial powers.

The demonstrations come a day after Morsi stuck by his decree after a meeting with the country’s top judges aimed at defusing the crisis. There has been “no change to the constitutional declaration”, presidential spokesman Yasser Ali told reporters at the end of the meeting.

The outskirts of the square have seen sporadic clashes now entering their ninth day, in what started as an anniversary protest to mark one year since deadly confrontations with police in the same area.

The television footage this morning showed masked protesters grabbing tear gas canisters and throwing them back at police in a street close to the US embassy, off Tahrir.

Last night, tens of thousands of protesters packed the square in a massive show of force, furious that the Islamist president had issued a decree granting himself sweeping powers.

At least 100 people were injured in Tuesday’s nationwide demonstrations including 21 in Cairo, the health ministry said. At least three people have died in one week of clashes.

- © AFP, 2012

Read: Egypt’s top judges slam president’s new powers

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