Alexandria Islamists rally to back clerics

Updated - November 17, 2021 04:05 am IST

Published - December 21, 2012 06:28 pm IST - ALEXANDRIA, Egypt

Opponents of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi hold pamphlets urging a "no vote" on a constitutional referendum as cars burn during clashes between supporters and opponents of President Mohammed Morsi in Alexandria, Egypt, Friday, Dec. 14, 2012, a day before the referendum on the constitution.  Opposing sides in Egypt's political crisis were staging rival rallies on Friday, the final day before voting starts on a contentious draft constitution that has plunged the country into turmoil and deeply divided the nation.(AP Photo)

Opponents of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi hold pamphlets urging a "no vote" on a constitutional referendum as cars burn during clashes between supporters and opponents of President Mohammed Morsi in Alexandria, Egypt, Friday, Dec. 14, 2012, a day before the referendum on the constitution. Opposing sides in Egypt's political crisis were staging rival rallies on Friday, the final day before voting starts on a contentious draft constitution that has plunged the country into turmoil and deeply divided the nation.(AP Photo)

Thousands of ultraconservative Islamists chanting “God is Great” have rallied in Egypt’s second largest city, Alexandria, on the eve of the second leg of voting on Egypt’s contentious constitution.

Security forces cordoned off streets leading to the Qaed Ibrahim mosque in the heart of the city on the Mediterranean coast, where thousands of Salafi Islamists staged a demonstration they called “the million-man rally to defend clerics and mosques.”

The rally came in response to last week’s violence, when well-known ultraconservative Salafi preacher Sheik Ahmed el-Mahalawi was trapped inside the mosque while his supporters battled opponents outside with swords and firebombs.

El-Mahalawi stirred anger with a sermon last Friday, when he denounced opponents of the Islamist-friendly constitution as “followers of heretics.”

The referendum on the constitution is set for completion Saturday.

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