Millions of Egyptians across the country took to the streets Sunday to call for President Mohammed Morsi’s resignation on the anniversary of his first year in office. Morsi, the first democratically elected leader in Egypt’s history, has been criticized for the country’s flailing economy and an infusion of Islamic law. Some speculated that Sunday’s demonstrations in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, which became a revolutionary symbol of the Arab Spring, surpassed even the 2011 protests that led to the ouster of former President Hosni Mubarak.
A rebel group claims 22 million people have signed a petition calling for Morsi’s resignation. In an interview with the Guardian, Morsi—the first democratically elected leader in Egypt’s history—held that his place in office is protected by Egypt’s constitution.
Many bellowed their anger at Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood, accused of hijacking the revolution and using electoral victories to monopolize power and push through Islamic law.
Others have been alienated by a deepening economic crisis and worsening personal security, aggravated by a political deadlock over which Mursi has presided.
As the working day ended and 100 Fahrenheit heat eased, more protesters converged through the eerily deserted streets of the shuttered city center, while smaller crowds protested in several other areas of the capital.
Gathering near the presidential palace, thousands of members of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist group backing Mr. Morsi, armed themselves with billy clubs and tubes and donned protective vests, shields and helmets.
Many said they feared that the police — left largely intact since the overthrow of Mr. Mubarak — would fail to defend the palace or might join an assault. “If there is treason, we are here,” said Ahmed Abdel Azeez, 38, a Brotherhood member who has camped outside a mosque near the palace on Friday.
A spokesman for the Brotherhood told Russia Today that protesters attacked the group’s headquarters in southeastern Cairo with Molotov cocktails and rocks.
This post will be updated as new information becomes available.