TODAY   |  November 24, 2012

Egypt erupts after presidential power grab

“We are here because the goals of the revolution have yet to be achieved,” one protester said as people took to the streets after President Mohamed Morsi decreed more power for himself. Critics call it a power grab, and there have been calls for a million-man march against Morsi. NBC’s Jim Maceda reports.

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>>> now to egypt, where protests have erupted over president mohamed morsi's decree expanding his power. jim is in cairo. good morning.

>> reporter: almost two years after their revolution, egyptians seem more divided than ever. after many hear their elected leader has driven the wedge deeper and wider. at dawn, there were more tents and protesters around tahrir square, but that didn't stop clashes with police, where protesters blocked traffic defying president mohamed morsi's orders. after morsi declared sweeping powers for himself, leaving him above the law .

>> translator: we are here because the goals of the revolution have yet to be achieved.

>> reporter: morsi told his supporters he had to take radical measures to protect the revolution. and fast track a new constitution being written by a mostly islamist assembly, after which he said he'd give up those powers. yes, he might be a dictator for the time being , but these powers will be transferred to an elected parliament, he said. but the decrees have triggered protests and riots across the nation. dozens were injured in alexandria when angry youth stormed and set fire to morsi's muslim brotherhood headquarters. this action makes him a dictator even more than hosni mubarak , he said. critics call it a power grab, after brokering a cease fire deal in gaza. but suddenly, morsi the mediator is fighting for his political life back home.

>> regardless of the timing, this sort of move by morsi would always have been a risky and polarizing gesture.

>> reporter: and just as egypt seemed to be emerging from his post-revolutionary hain, there's more trouble ahead. later today, opposition members are meeting to plot out their next move. there are already plans for strikes by judges and a call for a million-man march against morsi