Egyptians poured onto the streets on Sunday, swelling crowds that opposition leaders hope will number into the millions by evening and persuade Islamist President Mohamed Morsi to resign.
Waving national flags, a crowd of some 200,000 had gathered by late afternoon on Cairo’s Tahrir Square, seat of the 2011 uprising against Morsi’s predecessor Hosni Mubarak.
“The people want the fall of the regime!” they chanted - this time not against an ageing dictator but against their first ever elected leader, who took office only a year ago to the day. As the working day ended and the heat of the sun eased, more joined them on the otherwise deserted streets of the capital.
Many are angry at Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood, saying it has hijacked the revolution through a series of electoral victories to monopolise power and push through Islamic law. Others are simply frustrated by the economic crisis, deepened by political deadlock, over which Morsi has presided.
In other cities, thousands of protesters also gathered. Over 100,000 were out in the centre of second city Alexandria.
Security sources said three Brotherhood offices were set on fire by demonstrators in towns in the Nile Delta — the latest in over a week of street violence in which hundreds have been hurt and several killed, including an American student.
Thousands of anti-Morsi protesters were walking to the site. Interviewed by a British newspaper, Morsi repeated his determination to ride out what he sees as an undemocratic attack on his electoral legitimacy.
But he also offered to revise the new, Islamist-inspired constitution, saying clauses on religious authority, which fueled liberal resentment, were not his choice. He made a similar offer last week, after the head of the army issued a strong call for politicians to compromise.