24 August 2013, 15:03

Pro-Morsi protests spread beyond Egypt

Egypt's authorities have said their crackdown on Islamist camps was an indispensable, albeit difficult, move to make. Earlier this week, anxiety spread increasingly through the country with Friday drawing near, but the day passed fairly quietly. Muslim Brotherhood protests proved local but pro-Morsi demonstrations have now been launched in other countries.

 

According to the Egyptian Foreign Minister, the protesters’ camps were a huge security problem that had to be settled in the interests of the nation, however much he may have deplored the loss of each and every life. He adds that no country would tolerate the rampage of angry crowds more than the Egyptian government did.

The Foreign Minister asked not to exaggerate the role that the Defence Minister and Commander of the Army, Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, played in the decision the government made.

Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy pointed out that one shouldn’t believe that the problems of Egypt can only be settled by certain individuals. If you look at the burning churches and see the fanatics’ attacks on police stations, you will realize the scope of the security problem that they pose. Yet, we are seeking dialogue despite anything, he added.

According to the Foreign Minister, Egyptian authorities feel that the Muslim Brotherhood will be able to take part in building democracy in the country.

Fahmy pointed out that as soon as calm and order were restored, the authorities would launch a dialogue with all social forces. The government will address the role of religion in politics and will start serious talks on the role of the army in today’s Egypt. He added that he trusted the military and was certain that it is not power that army officers need and that he was sure the soldiers would remain in the barracks.

The Egyptian Foreign Minister further said that the country was ready to advance towards democracy along with the Muslim Brotherhood and that those who had not broken the law were welcome to join the political process in the framework of the new constitution “that we are working on now”.

The situation was generally calm in Cairo yesterday. Islamist demonstrations boiled down to small-scale protests, making no attempts to seize squares as they did last week.

City road traffic is unimpeded, with army units and military hardware still deployed only in Tahrir Square, outside the Ittihadiya presidential palace and in the Abbasiya neighbourhood, the location of the Defence Ministry, as well as at several key points on the Nile Embankment.

Clashes between supporters and opponents of the deposed President Mohamed Morsi have been reported from the city of Tanta, 94 kilometres north of Cairo. According to the Al-Hayat TV channel, one person died, while 24 others were injured in the clashes. Security units suppressed the skirmishes, so now the situation is back to normal, according to the Province's Governor.

In Az-Zaqaziq, in the east of the Nile Delta, 2,000 Muslim Brotherhood supporters took to the streets, chanting antigovernment slogans. The provincial centre residents were outraged by the demonstration, so the local police intervened and dispelled the protesters.

A major operation against armed extremists has been conducted in the Sinai Peninsula. According to the Egyptian Interior Ministry, 78 terrorists, including 32 foreign mercenaries, were wiped out as a result. 203 militants were encircled and surrendered.

According to the Interior Ministry, 19 Muslim Brotherhood officials have been arrested in 8 Egyptian provinces in the past 24 hours. Weapons have been found in their homes.

Clashes between the military authorities and the deposed President Morsi supporters are continuing in Egypt. A state of emergency has been declared in the Arab county, with a curfew imposed in 14 cities. Some 900 people died as a result of unrest. The military has, besides, arrested several Muslim Brotherhood top-echelon leaders.

Egypt: Pro-Morsi rallies smaller amid arrests

Supporters of Egypt’s deposed president, who once overwhelmed cities in the hundreds of thousands, changed tactics Friday by demonstrating in scattered, small rallies that avoided confronting a heavy military deployment waiting for them across the country.

Tensions grip Egypt on the eve of the first court appearance of Muslim Brotherhood supreme guide Mohamed Badie arrested as part of a crackdown on supporters of deposed president Mohamed Morsi. Picture.

The low turnout signaled the strain on ousted leader Mohammed Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood, as it has trouble drawing large numbers of supporters and faces an increasingly skeptical Egyptian public wary of more bloodshed like that which followed the July 3 military coup that overthrew him. Meanwhile, an intense security crackdown by the military-backed interim government has rounded up much of its leadership.

The Brotherhood has “committed a strategic error last week by mixing peaceful protests with armed clashes with civilians,” said Abdullah el-Sinawi, an Egyptian newspaper columnist and analyst. “Many supporters are now staying away fearing that new civilian-on-civilian clashes will erupt.”

Morsi supporters dubbed the day the “Friday of Martyrs,” in reference to the several hundred people that died in clashes with Egypt’s military during raids on street camps this month. Last Friday, vigilantes at neighborhood checkpoints battled Morsi supporters across the capital in unprecedented clashes between residents that killed more than 170 people, including dozens of police officers.

Ahead of the protests, soldiers in armored personnel carriers and tanks deployed early Friday across the country on major roads and plazas to stop demonstrators from gathering. But after Friday prayers, Cairo and the rest of Egypt did not see massive crowds on the streets. Instead, small groups of Islamists in the hundreds chanted against the military and held up posters of Morsi on side streets and outside neighborhood mosques.

Thousands marched through the streets of Cairo’s Nasr City district. Some chanted: “We are willing to sacrifice our lives” and “We promise the martyrs that we will end military rule.”

Mohamed Ahmed, a Morsi supporter, insisted the movement against what the Brotherhood calls an “illegitimate” coup would continue.

Egypt Islamists call new demos in test of strength

Mass protests called by Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood mostly failed to materialise on Friday as the movement reels from a bloody army crackdown on followers of ousted President Mohamed Morsi.

Update:Troops and police had taken relatively low-key security measures before the "Friday of Martyrs" processions that were to have begun from 28 mosques in the capital after weekly prayers.

But midday prayers were cancelled at some mosques and few major protests unfolded in Cairo, although witnesses said at least 1,000 people staged a march in the Mohandiseen district.

There were no reports of violence in that procession, but the Brotherhood's website said one person had been killed in the Nile Delta town of Tanta in clashes with security forces.

Brotherhood supporters also turned out in Alexandria, several Delta towns, the Suez Canal city of Ismailia, the north Sinai town of Rafah, and Assiut in the south, with minor skirmishes reported in some places.

Despite his defiant words, the mood of the protesters seemed subdued, perhaps a sign that the crackdown and the round-up of Brotherhood leaders has chilled the rank-and-file.


Egypt Islamists holding anti-military protests in several cities

Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood on Friday held protests against the military, despite a relentless clampdown on Islamists.

Hundreds of backers of toppled Islamist president Mohammed Morsi marched from mosques in Cairo and its twin city of Giza, chanting slogans against army chief Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi.

Some demonstrators banged on empty pots and shouted slogans denouncing a dusk-dawn curfew in force as part of a state of emergency declared by the military-backed authorities last week.

Police fired tear gas to disperse pro-Morsi demonstrators in the Nile Delta city of Mansura, reported state-run newspaper al-Ahram.

It added that at least 25 people were injured in clashes between Morsi's backers and opponents in the Delta city of Tanta.

Police arrested 20 Brotherhood followers for illegally possessing arms in Tanta, according to al-Ahram.

Other pro-Morsi protests were held in the southern cities of Assiut and Fayyoum, which are Brotherhood strongholds.

Egypt Islamists call new demos in test of strength

Supporters of ousted Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi began small marches in Cairo on Friday in a key test of their ability to mobilise support seven weeks after his overthrow.

In recent days, dozens of senior and mid-level members of Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood have been arrested, disrupting the organisation's structure, and raising questions about its remaining strength.

Shortly after Friday's main noon prayers, Morsi loyalists began marches from several Cairo mosques, although AFP correspondents reported that turnout at some was low.

At the Isteqama mosque in Giza, dozens of protesters gathered for a march, many carrying pictures of Morsi.

"I'm participating now to revive the January 25 (2011) revolution," said 24-year-old Mohamed Sayed, referring to the uprising that overthrew president Hosni Mubarak.

"The Mubarak era is back, worse and stronger," he added.

The call for demonstrations by loyalists of Morsi, who remains in custody at a secret location, came a day after Mubarak was released from jail to house arrest at a military hospital.

The release stirred little interest in Egypt, which has been rocked by political unrest since Morsi's July 3 ouster by the military after massive protests against him.

Nearly 1,000 people were killed in a week of violence between Morsi loyalists and security forces, sparking international concern and condemnation.

His supporters called for "Friday of martyrs" protests but in recent days, dwindling numbers of demonstrators have turned out, their ranks thinned by a fierce crackdown.

Many Brotherhood members are in hiding, avoiding their homes and even communication by telephone, a mid-level member of the group told AFP on condition of anonymity.

"We no longer receive directives and we don't really know what we should do anymore. Most of our direct leaders are detained," the member from the Nile Delta said.

Morsi himself is being held at a secret location and faces charges related to his 2011 escape from prison and of inciting the death and torture of protesters.

His continued detention even as Mubarak is released to house arrest has stirred comment, particularly as Mubarak also faces charges of complicity in the deaths of protesters.

Washington on Thursday sidestepped questions about Mubarak's release from jail, but called for Morsi to be freed.

"With respect to the Mubarak trial and decisions made, this is an internal Egyptian legal matter," said State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki.

"Our position on Mr. Morsi remains the same. We believe there should be a process for his release," Psaki said.

The United States has also criticised the violence, as well as Badie's arrest, and announced the cancellation of joint military exercises.But it has stopped short of halting its $1.3 billion a year in mainly military aid.

At the same time, attacks against Christian institutions, which have been blamed on Islamists, have continued.

Dozens of Christian churches, schools, businesses and homes - mostly in the rural south - have been attacked, allegedly by Islamists angry at the Coptic Church leadership's endorsement of Morsi's ouster.

On Thursday, Human Rights Watch condemned the government for failing to protect churches, and the Brotherhood for failing to halt incitement against Christians.

Egypt braces for 'Martyrs' Friday'

Supporters of Egypt's deposed president Morsi will stage a "Friday of martyrs" of mass protests, risking more potential bloodshed to show they can still claim the streets after a week in which hundreds were gunned down and their leaders jailed.

Egyptians are enduring the bloodiest civil unrest of their modern history after the military overthrew Mohamed Morsi on July 3 following demonstrations against his rule.

In a symbolic victory for the army-dominated old order, former autocrat Hosni Mubarak - toppled in a 2011 pro-democracy uprising - was freed from jail on Thursday, while his freely elected successor Morsi remains imprisoned.

A seven-week standoff turned into a bloodbath when the security forces dispersed Morsi's supporters' protest camps on August 14. They have since launched a campaign of arrests designed to break Morsi's 85-year-old Muslim Brotherhood, seizing figures that include its "general guide", Mohamed Badie.

At least 900 people, including 100 soldiers and police, have been killed in the past eight days, according to government sources. Brotherhood supporters say the real figure is far higher.

In recent days, Brotherhood protests that once attracted tens of thousands of people at locations across the country have ebbed, suggesting the group's famed organisational strength may have been damaged by the arrest of its leaders. Friday's protests will be a test of its resilience.

"We will remain steadfast on the road to defeating the military coup," a pro-Morsi alliance called the National Coalition to Support Legitimacy and Reject the Coup said in a statement. It named 28 mosques in Greater Cairo as points of departure for the protests.

The clampdown appears to have weakened the Arab world's oldest and most influential Islamist group, which survived for generations as an underground movement before emerging as Egypt's most organised political force when Mubarak fell.

The Brotherhood won five successive votes in Egypt following the 2011 uprising, but many Egyptians accused it of trying to monopolise power during Morsi's year in office, and huge crowds rallied against Morsi before the army removed him.

Voice of Russia, Reuters, AFP, Times Argus

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