Egypt's political crisis has spiralled deeper into bitterness and recrimination as thousands of Islamist backers of the president vowed vengeance at a funeral for two men killed in bloody clashes earlier this week and large crowds of the president's opponents marched on his palace to increase pressure after he rejected their demands.
The two camps in the country's divide appeared at a deadlock, after President Mohammed Morsi gave a fiery televised speech on Thursday night denouncing his opponents and refusing to call off a referendum on a draft constitution promulgated by his allies, even as he appealed for dialogue.
The opposition rejected talks, saying he must first cancel the referendum and meet other demands.
With Egypt's crisis now in its third week, anger was mounting in the streets, after the two camps clashed on Wednesday in heavy battles outside the presidential palace that left six dead and more than 700 injured.
Each side is depicting the conflict as an all-out fight for Egypt's future. The opposition accuses Morsi and his Islamist allies of turning increasingly dictatorial to force their agenda on the country and monopolise power. The Muslim Brotherhood, from which Morsi hails, and other Islamists say the opposition is trying to use the streets to overturn their victories in elections over the past year.
The tone was one of a battle cry as thousands of Islamists held funeral prayers on Friday at Al-Azhar Mosque - the country's premier Islamic institution - for two Morsi supporters killed in Wednesday's clashes. Seeking to rally their side, a series of speakers to the crowd portrayed the opposition as tools of the regime of ousted leader Hosni Mubarak - or as decadent and un-Islamic - and vowed to defend a constitution they say brings Islamic law to Egypt.
At the same time, thousands of protesters against Morsi streamed in several marches from different parts of Cairo towards his presidential palace in an upscale neighbourhood for a third straight day. Many were furious over the president's speech the night before in which he accused 'hired thugs' of attacking protesters outside the palace on Wednesday, sparking the clashes. Most witnesses say the clashes began with Morsi supporters attacked a tent camp set up by anti-Morsi protesters.
At the rings of barbed wire outside the palace, protesters chanted, 'Leave, leave,' and 'the people want the fall of the regime'.
The National Salvation Front, the main opposition umbrella group, blasted Morsi's speech, saying he was 'surprisingly in denial to facts that millions of people in Egypt and around the world have seen' - that the violence on Wednesday came from 'clear and blatant instigation by leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, from which the president hails'.
In a statement on Friday, the group repeated its rejection of Morsi's call for dialogue saying he must first meet their demands. The opposition says Morsi must rescind decrees he issued last month giving himself sweeping powers and neutralising the judiciary and cancel the planned December 15 referendum on the draft constitution.
Rival protests also took place in cities around the country, including in the cities of Alexandria on the Mediterranean coast and Luxor in the south.