CAIRO Egypt’s political crisis spiraled deeper into bitterness and recrimination Friday as thousands of Islamist backers of the president vowed vengeance at a funeral for two men killed in bloody clashes earlier this week and large crowds of the president’s opponents marched on his palace to increase pressure after he rejected their demands.
Each side is depicting the conflict as an all-out fight for Egypt’s future. The opposition accuses President Mohammed Morsi and his Islamist allies of turning increasingly dictatorial to force their agenda on the country and monopolize power. The Muslim Brotherhood, from which Morsi hails, and other Islamists say the opposition is trying to use the streets to overturn their victories in elections over the past year.
The tone was one of a battle cry as thousands of Islamists held funeral prayers Friday at Al-Azhar Mosque — the country’s premier Islamic institution — for two Morsi supporters killed in Wednesday’s clashes. Seeking to rally their side, a series of speakers to the crowd portrayed the opposition as tools of the regime of ousted leader Hosni Mubarak — or as decadent and un-Islamic — and vowed to defend a constitution they say introduces Islamic law to Egypt.
At the same time, thousands of protesters against Morsi streamed in several marches from different parts of Cairo toward his presidential palace in an upscale neighborhood for a third straight day.
Many were furious over the president’s speech the night before in which he accused “hired thugs” of attacking protesters outside the palace Wednesday, sparking the clashes. Most witnesses say the clashes began with Morsi supporters attacked a tent camp set up by anti-Morsi protesters.
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