CAIRO – Several thousand Egyptians rallied Friday in the first significant protests against the country’s Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, accusing him and his Muslim Brotherhood group of trying to monopolize power.

The main protest in Cairo, which counted around 3,000 people and converged on the presidential palace from several locations, drew a far smaller turnout than the mass demonstrations that helped topple Morsi’s predecessor, Hosni Mubarak, or the later rallies against the council of generals that took power after Mubarak’s fall.

While the turnout was low for Friday’s rally, as well as similar ones in the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria and elsewhere, the protests point to the fears many Egyptians feel with the Islamist president and his policies, and reflect the deep divide in Egyptian society over the country’s future direction under Morsi and the Brotherhood.

The demonstrations in Cairo were mostly peaceful. However, a mob wielding knives and sticks attacked around 1,000 anti-Brotherhood protesters in Alexandria. Several people were wounded and someone in the crowd lit a flare that sent clouds of smoke into the air.

Protesters accuse Morsi of monopolizing power and say that he exceeded his authority when he assumed legislative powers after forcing senior generals into retirement following a deadly attack this month by militants that killed 16 Egyptian soldiers in the Sinai Peninsula.

The protesters in Cairo appeared to be largely made up of supporters of the former regime and those calling for Egypt to remain a secular state. Notably absent, however, were Egypt’s liberal and secular parties as well as the youth activists who helped engineer last year’s uprising against Mubarak.