Egypt's President Mohamed Morsi is facing nationwide protests after refusing to back down from controversial decrees granting him sweeping powers. Tens of thousands have flocked to Cairo's iconic Tahrir Square.
Opponents of President Morsi rallied in Tahrir Square for a fifth day on Tuesday, stepping up pressure to topple decrees they say threaten Egypt with a new era of autocracy.
Several marches set off from around the capital of Cairo to join thousands of protesters already in the square to denounce Morsi's actions.
In the Mediterranean city of Alexandria, several hundred gathered in Qaitbay Square, with two large marches expected to join them later.
A rival rally in Cairo by the Muslim Brotherhood in support of the president was called off to "avoid potential unrest."
"The Muslim Brotherhood stole the revolution" read one banner in Tahrir. Another said the president was "pushing the people to civil disobedience."
Sporadic clashes between police and protesting youths continued into the afternoon near the square.
The protest called by leftist, liberal and socialist groups marked an escalation of the worst crisis since the Morsi was elected in June.
Morsi stands by decrees
The demonstrations came a day after Morsi had met with the Supreme Judicial Council, Egypt's highest court, in a bid to defuse the crisis over the decree that has sparked deadly clashes and prompted some judges and journalists to call for strike.
After the meeting, presidential spokesman Yasser Ali told reporters that there was "no change in the constitutional declaration."
Among the measures is a ban on any judicial review of presidential decrees or other actions and legal immunity for the Islamist-dominated assembly charged with drafting the country's new constitution.
Ali said that in regards to immunity for presidential decisions, "what is intended is those that are linked to matters of sovereignty."
He added that there were no changes to the immunity granted to the constitutional assembly, and stressed what Morsi called the "temporary" nature of all of the measures.
hc/dr (AFP, Reuters)