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Protesters shout slogans against General Prosecutor Abdel Maguid Mahmoud and members of the Mubarak regime at Tahrir Square, yesterday.
CAIRO: Supporters of President Mohammed Mursi clashed with opponents in Cairo’s Tahrir Square yesterday in the worst violence over Egypt’s new Islamist leader, a day after he crossed swords with the judiciary.
Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood movement and a coalition of secular leaning groups held separate rallies on some of the thorniest issues facing the new democracy after last year’s uprising which ousted president Hosni Mubarak.
The health ministry said at least 12 people were wounded as protesters showered each other with stones, after Mursi supporters tore down a podium from which anti-Brotherhood chants were being orchestrated.
The violence broke out as Mursi faced a backlash from judges after trying to sack the chief prosecutor following this week’s acquittals of Mubarak-era officials on trial for a deadly attack on protesters during the 2011 uprising.
In a speech in the coastal city of Alexandria, Mursi pledged to bring to justice the officials accused of organising the killings of protesters during the uprising that eventually brought his once-banned movement to power.
“We will never ignore those who committed crimes against the nation and corrupted it,” he said in the speech reported by the official Mena news agency.
But other groups that had taken part in the 18-day uprising and now oppose Mursi accuse the Islamists of dominating political life, particularly a crucial body that is drafting Egypt’s new constitution.
Yesterday’s clashes were the most violent in a simmering struggle between Mursi’s movement and his opponents.
An influential group of Egyptian judges backed state prosecutor Abdel Meguid Mahmud’s refusal to resign after Morsi ordered his removal on Thursday, the official Al Ahram newspaper reported.
Mursi’s bid to remove Mahmud bypassed checks on presidential control of the prosecutor, further enraging judges after the president had unsuccessfully tried to reverse a court order disbanding the Islamist-dominated parliament.
Ahmed Al Zind, head of the Judges’ Club, said the judiciary was backing Mahmud to uphold “the sovereignty of the law and the principle of separation of powers,” A Ahram reported.