Thousands of Egyptians turned out on Monday for the funeral of an activist who died overnight after he was critically injured in clashes near Cairo’s Tahrir Square last week.
Gaber Salah, a member of the April 6 movement known by his nickname “Jika,” was hurt in confrontations between police and protesters on Mohammed Mahmud street where protesters had been marking the first anniversary of deadly clashes.
Some wept, others chanted for justice as Jika’s white coffin was carried from Omar Makram mosque in Tahrir Square-- where activists have been camping out to protest President Mohamed Mursi’s assumption of sweeping powers -- towards Mohammed Mahmud street, where violence has been brewing for the past week.
Mourners comforted his devastated mother, as one protester carried a sign that read “Glory for Gaber.”
“It isn’t acceptable to have such killings now. We refuse all sorts of violence,” said longtime activist George Ishak who attended the funeral.
“What is happening is a warning to Mursi that the country is in danger,” he said.
The funeral comes on the eve of rival mass rallies in response to a decree granting Mursi broad powers that are immune from judicial review and which threaten to deepen the country’s divisions.
The president’s constitutional declaration on Thursday allowed him to issue decisions and laws to be unchallenged.
Hundreds of Mursi supporters demonstrated late on Sunday in front of mosques in Cairo and across the country in protests called for by the Muslim Brotherhood, from which the president hails, witnesses said.
The moderate Islamist movement has also called for a “million man” march on Tuesday, to coincide with a huge demonstration organized by Mursi opponents.
Later Monday, presidential spokesman Yasser Ali told reporters, shortly before the president was due to meet judges to try to defuse the row, said “President Mursi is very optimistic that Egyptians will overcome this challenge as they have overcome other challenges.”
Ali said while the president has the right to issue decrees, they however, do not violate the country’s judicial powers and authorities. On Monday, Egypt Judges Club said that it fully rejected Mursi’s constitutional declaration.
Meanwhile, Hamdin Sabahi, Egypt’s ex-presidential candidate and leader of the leftist Dignity party, said that “we need to have a dialogue with a president and not half of a God.”
On Sunday Mursi said the new power were only “temporary,” and “not meant to concentrate power. But this has not yet been enough to calm protests, which were sparked over fears by the opposition that he was taking on dictatorial powers.
Several offices belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party have been torched since Thursday announcement.