Egypt was locked in a tense standoff on Monday after millions of protesters swarmed into the streets to demand the resignation of Islamist President Mohamed Mursi and militants set the ruling Muslim Brotherhood’s headquarters on fire, Reuters reports.
Young revolutionaries united with liberal and leftist opposition parties in a massive show of defiance on the first anniversary of Mursi’s inauguration on Sunday, chanting “the people demand the fall of the regime”.
The demonstrations, which brought half a million people to Cairo’s central Tahrir Square and a similar crowd in the second city, Alexandria, were easily the largest since the Arab Spring uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak in 2011.
After dawn on Monday, young men were still preventing traffic entering Tahrir Square but only hundreds of people remained, some resting under makeshift awnings.
Mursi, the most populous Arab state’s first freely elected leader, stayed out of sight throughout the protests but acknowledged through a spokesman that he had made mistakes while adding that he was working to fix them and was open to dialogue.
He showed no sign of quitting.
An aide to Mursi said he was “encouraged” that events had unfolded mostly peacefully : “This is another day of democratic practice that we all cherish,” he said in a statement.