President Mohamed Morsi's decision to fire a hard-line Islamist as an adviser has laid bare rivalries between Egypt's two biggest Islamist groups as parliamentary elections approach.
The sacking of Khaled Alameddin of the Salafi Nour Party on Sunday has led his movement to step up criticism of the Muslim Brotherhood that propelled Morsi to power, narrowing the already slim chances of the two movements working together in the election.
Alameddin broke down in tears during a news conference on Monday, saying he had been accused of abusing power. The presidency has yet to issue a statement on why Alameddin was dismissed.
"I formally demand an apology from the president. I won't accept an apology less than that," Alameddin said.
Another of Morsi's advisers from the Nour Party, Bassam El-Zarka, announced his resignation at the news conference, apparently in solidarity with Alameddin.
The Nour Party, which emerged from the ultra-conservative religious movement Daawa Salafiya, came second to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt's last parliamentary elections, the results of which were overturned by a court ruling last June. New elections are due to begin in April or May.
Since the last legislative vote, the two movements have both co-operated and clashed.
Nour backed a Brotherhood rival, Abdel Moneim Abol Fotouh, in the first round of the presidential election. But it swung behind Morsi in the second-round run-off against Ahmed Shafik, Mubarak's last prime minister.
Mursi employed several Nour Party members as advisers. The groups co-operated to drive through an Islamist-tinged constitution approved in a December referendum, deepening a national divide between Islamists and their opponents. (News 24)