Port Said—along with its canal-region neighbors of Ismailia and Suez, which are also covered by Morsi’s decree—has been a picture of chaos in recent days, with demonstrators trading gunfire with police and volleys of tear gas dispersing funeral processions for residents killed in the clashes. Amid the upheaval, the country’s opposition—which had taken to the streets en masse just a day before the Port Said verdict last week, in commemoration of the two-year anniversary of the 2011 revolution—has sought to press the advantage against Morsi, renewing its fight against the controversial Constitution he pushed through last year. A number of opposition leaders met with the president late Monday—however a coalition of 35 secular groups—led by Mohamed ElBaradei—boycotted the talks, saying it was merely political theater.

Many in the opposition think Morsi’s use of the emergency decree—a hated tool of repression during the three-decade rule of his predecessor, Hosni Mubarak—will only see him further weakened politically. “No. 1, we have had very bad experience with emergency law,” said the Cairo activist who blogs under the handle Big Pharaoh. “And No. 2, it’s completely useless. If you look at the news reports coming from the cities where the emergency law was declared—I mean people are still taking to the streets. They are not paying attention to emergency laws.”