Mass political protests grip Egypt

Huge protests calling for the resignation of Egypt’s President Mohammed Morsi and early presidential elections are taking place in the capital, Cairo, and other cities. Tens of thousands of opponents have massed in Tahrir Square and outside the main presidential palace.

Protesters accuse Mr Morsi of failing to tackle economic and security problems since taking power a year ago.

A presidential spokesman urged them to respect the democratic process.

Morsi supporters massed in the Cairo suburb of Nasr City with banners denouncing the opposition.

The president’s critics say the country’s first Islamist president has put the agenda of the Muslim Brotherhood party ahead of the country’s wider interests.

In Cairo, they have been chanting: “Irhal! Irhal!” (“Leave! Leave!”), reports the BBC’s Aleem Maqbool.

Demonstrations are being reported across the country

    In Alexandria, the second-biggest city, thousands of protesters gathered for a march to the central Sidi Gaber area, BBC Arabic’s Rami Gabr reports

    A big stage has been erected in the main square of the Suez Canal city of Port Said, and protesters are checking the identities of those going in and out of the square, BBC Arabic’s Attia Nabil reports

    Rallies are also expected in Suez, Monofia and Sharqiya – the birthplace of President Morsi.

Windows in the Muslim Brotherhood headquarters in Cairo were reinforced with sandbags ahead of the protests.

Some Morsi supporters in Nasr City are wearing banners saying that they are willing to be martyrs for the cause of keeping the president in power.

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