Thousands of Egyptians gathered in Cairo on Friday in two opposing mass rallies, one calling for the ouster of Mohammed Mursi, and another showing support for the embattled Islamist president.
Opponents of Mursi poured into the iconic Tahrir Square, waving flags and chanting “leave.”
Hundreds had camped the previous night in the epicenter of the revolution that ousted former President Hosni Mubarak in 2011.
Protests against Mursi took place in other parts of Cairo, including the districts of Shubra, Sayeda Zeinab and Mohandesseen.
In Alexandria and Daqahliy offices of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) were torched, according to security forces. Al Arabiya correspondent said an American teacher was killed in Alexandria clashes.
A medical source confirmed that the “21-year-old U.S. citizen was killed,” according to AFP.
In response, the United States warned Americans on travel to Egypt, and moved to reduce official presence at its embassy in Cairo, according to the Associated Press.
The violence poses a major challenge of President Mursi after one year in office.
Unlike Mubarak, Mursi has supporters who are active on the streets through rallies, said former MP Nizar Ghorab, who dismissed attempts to overthrow the current president with street protests and violence.
Mursi was elected, so a leadership change should take place through democratic and institutional means, Ghorab added.
Abdullah al-Senawi, a leftist activist and a leader of the opposition National Salvation Front, told Al Arabiya that Mursi has proven to be “untrustworthy,” and should be removed through street action.
Mursi cannot be overthrown through institutional means because he has jeopardized state institutions, Senawi added.
Supporters of the president gathered in Cairo’s Nasr City district, vowing an “open rally” to protect his “legitimacy.”
The standoff between the two camps has raised fears of deadly violence, and has put the army on high alert.
On Wednesday, the army deployed troop reinforcements and armored vehicles near several cities, and has threatened to intervene if violence flares to prevent Egypt from entering a “dark tunnel.”
Army chief Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi has urged the rival camps to talk and reach a resolution to prevent violence