Supporters, Opponents of Egypt's President Stage Rival Rallies Ahead of Referendum

2:22 PM, Dec 11, 2012   |    comments
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CAIRO (AP) - Opponents and supporters of Egypt's president have gathered by the thousands for rival rallies in Cairo.

The rallies come four days ahead a nationwide referendum on a proposed constitution drafted largely by President Mohammed Morsi's Islamist allies.

Hours before the demonstrations began, masked assailants set upon opposition protesters who were staging a sit-in at Tahrir (tah-HREER') Square. Security officials say the attackers fired birdshot and swung knives and sticks at the protesters in pre-dawn raid, wounding at least 11 of them.

The draft constitution has deeply divided Egypt and triggered some of the worst street violence since Morsi took office in June. Liberal Egyptians, leftists and Christians claim the charter restricts freedoms and gives Islamists too much influence over the running of the country.

Islamist protesters have been denouncing the opposition as "counter-revolutionaries." The president's backers rallied near a mosque in the capital today, where a speaker told the crowd "the constitution means stability" and urged them to "shake the earth" with chants of Morsi's name.

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