Who does the left root for? I’d guess the Islamists.

CAIRO – Opponents and supporters of Egypt’s President Mohamed Mursi clashed in Cairo on Friday in the first street violence between rival factions since the Islamist leader took office.

Islamists and their opponents threw stones and bottles, and some fought hand-to-hand, showing how feelings still run high between the rival groups trying to shape the new Egypt after decades of autocracy, even though the streets have generally been calmer since Mursi’s election in June.

The state news agency cited a doctor at a hospital near Tahrir saying 41 people had been injured.

A government is in place, but Islamists and liberals are at loggerheads over the drafting of the new constitution, which must be agreed before a new parliament can be elected.

Many of the thousands who gathered in Tahrir Square were angry at this week’s court ruling that acquitted former officials charged with ordering a camel and horseback charge on protesters in the uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak last year.

But even before that ruling, Mursi’s opponents had called for protests against what they say is his failure to deliver on his promises for his first 100 days in office.

“Down, down with rule by the guide,” Mursi’s opponents chanted, suggesting that Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Badie pulls the strings even though Mursi officially quit the Brotherhood on taking office.

Some demonstrators pulled down a temporary podium that had been erected on one side of the square for speeches. Later, Islamists took over the square, triggering scuffles in nearby streets as they tried to keep rival groups out.

“We went to protest against the constituent assembly and Mursi’s failure in his 100 days, and Islamists prevented us and are now controlling the square,” said Islam Wagdy, 19.

There was no intervention by police, who have often been the target of protesters’ anger in the past because of their brutality against demonstrators in last year’s revolt.

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