Egypt's Morsi Flees Palace as Crowd Rages Outside

Activists battle tear gas, cut through perimeter fence

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff

Posted Dec 4, 2012 5:02 PM CST

(Newser) – Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi fled his palace today as tens of thousands of protesters raged outside and police fired tear gas into the crowd, the BBC reports. Liberal activists chanted slogans opposing Morsi's power grab and the country's hastily compiled new draft of a constitution: "Leave, leave!" they cried, reports Reuters. "He has made himself a fort and he says it is a temporary fort—this is something we cannot believe," said one protester in Cairo. "We've spent 30 years being betrayed—we won't believe Morsi, he will remain seated in the chair and not leave it."

Some protesters cut through the palace's barbed wire fence to rally close to the perimeter wall; police retreated into the palace grounds, probably to avoid any skirmishes, the New York Times reports. On the sidelines, activists are debating whether to boycott a referendum for the new constitution—scheduled for Dec. 15—or organize to vote against it. And at least three TV networks went dark and 11 newspapers refused to publish today to protest limits on freedom of speech in the draft constitution. The government is already investigating three journalists for allegedly insulting the judiciary, which one activist called "authoritarianism. That is a lack of understanding of what 'free expression' means."

Egyptian protesters chant anti Muslim Brotherhood slogans during a demonstration in front of the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2012.
Egyptian protesters chant anti Muslim Brotherhood slogans during a demonstration in front of the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2012.   (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)
Egyptian protesters chant anti Muslim Brotherhood slogans during a demonstration in front of the main gate of the presidential palace, background, in Cairo, Egypt, Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2012.
Egyptian protesters chant anti Muslim Brotherhood slogans during a demonstration in front of the main gate of the presidential palace, background, in Cairo, Egypt, Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2012.   (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)
Egyptian protesters chant anti Muslim Brotherhood slogans during a demonstration in front of the presidential palace, seen in the background, in Cairo, Egypt, Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2012.
Egyptian protesters chant anti Muslim Brotherhood slogans during a demonstration in front of the presidential palace, seen in the background, in Cairo, Egypt, Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2012.   (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)
Fireworks burst over Tahrir Square as protesters gather in Cairo, Egypt, Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2012.
Fireworks burst over Tahrir Square as protesters gather in Cairo, Egypt, Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2012.   (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)
A young Egyptian boy waves a national flag from his mother's shoulders as protesters chant slogans in Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt, Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2012.
A young Egyptian boy waves a national flag from his mother's shoulders as protesters chant slogans in Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt, Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2012.   (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)
Egyptian protesters chant anti Muslim Brotherhood slogans during a demonstration in front of the presidential palace, in Cairo, Egypt, Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2012.
Egyptian protesters chant anti Muslim Brotherhood slogans during a demonstration in front of the presidential palace, in Cairo, Egypt, Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2012.   (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)
Egyptian protesters carry national flags and chant anti Muslim Brotherhood slogans during a demonstration in front of the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2012.
Egyptian protesters carry national flags and chant anti Muslim Brotherhood slogans during a demonstration in front of the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2012.   (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)
Egyptian protesters chant anti Muslim Brotherhood slogans during a demonstration in front of the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2012.
Egyptian protesters chant anti Muslim Brotherhood slogans during a demonstration in front of the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2012.   (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)
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