News / Middle East

    Pro, Anti-Morsi Groups Rally in Cairo

    • Muslim Brotherhood doctors hold up newspaper with photos of their supporters killed in a confrontation with the Egyptian military on July 8. Photo: VOA/Sharon Behn 
    • Pro-Morsi supporters in Muslim Brotherhood rallying point outside Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque in Cairo, July 11. Photo: VOA/Sharon Behn
    • Child offering man water to cool off at Muslim Brotherhood rallying point outside Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque, Cairo, July 11. Photo: VOA/Sharon Behn
    • Muslim Brotherhood supporters sitting outside Cairo's Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque, July 11. Photo: VOA/Sharon Behn
    • Exhaused Morsi supporter resting outside Muslim Brotherhood stronghold outside Cairo's Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque, July 11. Photo: VOA/Sharon Behn
    • Quran, beads and pen at Muslim Brotherhood rally site outside Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque, Cairo, July 11.  Photo: VOA/Sharon Behn
    • Egyptian flags for sale at Muslim Brotherhood stronghold outside Cairo's Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque. Photo: VOA/Sharon Behn
    • Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood holding Qurans and sticks at the security checkpoint entering the Muslim Brotherhood stronghold outside Cairo's Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque, July 11. Photo: VOA/Sharon Behn
    Pro, Anti-Morsi Groups Rally in Cairo
    Supporters and opponents of Egypt's ousted President Mohamed Morsi are back in the streets of Cairo Friday, more than a week after the Islamist leader was deposed by the military.  The Muslim Brotherhood, which refuses to accept the ouster, or join the interim government, says the country's democracy is under threat.

    A Morsi supporter is doused with water at Cairo's Rabaa Adawiya square, July 12, 2013.A Morsi supporter is doused with water at Cairo's Rabaa Adawiya square, July 12, 2013.
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    A Morsi supporter is doused with water at Cairo's Rabaa Adawiya square, July 12, 2013.
    A Morsi supporter is doused with water at Cairo's Rabaa Adawiya square, July 12, 2013.
    Even before Friday's Muslim noontime prayer had started, thousands of Muslim Brotherhood and their supporters had gathered in front of the Rabaa el Adaweyeh mosque. Several men were spraying the families with water, to ease the midday heat. It is the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, so no one eats or drinks for almost 15 hours.

    By the time the prayers started, thousands of bodies blocked every street and sidewalk. And people were still arriving, responding to the the Muslim Brotherhood's call for a massive protest to demand Morsi's return.

    Morsi was elected last year, defeating a political opponent many associated with the previous government of Hosni Mubarak, ousted through a popular rebellion with the support of the military. Morsi supporters, like tour operator Fady Gamel, say the military's ouster of the Islamist leader threatens the country's democracy.

    As Gamel put it, "It is a fight between democracy and dictatorship."  He says the generals who have always been talking about democracy, democracy, are not democratic, they are, as he put it, a democ-tatorship.

    Sitting indoors in an empty hall near the protestors, Muslim Brotherhood spokesman Gehad el Haddad said in an interview with VOA that their demonstrations are peaceful and stand against what he describes as a military grab for power.  

    The military has no role in politics, he said. They have to be put back into the barracks, and politicians and the people through the ballot box lead the scene. That is what we are standing for.

    On Monday, dawn confrontations between Muslim Brotherhood protestors and the military ended with 51 killed and many injured.

    In Tahrir Square, anti-Morsi protestors accuse the Brotherhood of instigating violence. The say the army merely responded to the democratic will of the people, ousting Morsi on July 3.

    Sebastian Gorka, Director of the National Security Fellows Program at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington, agreed.

    "We should admit that while Morsi won the election, he almost immediately began to act in ways that are fundamentally unconstitutional, undemocratic and not representative of the will of the Egyptian people."

    Down in Tahrir Square on Friday, volunteers were setting up hundreds of tables and chairs for the evening fast-breaking Iftar meal, traditionally a time when families gather. Thousands were expected to fill the square by nightfall.

    Activist Mamdouh Hamza, an engineer, had arrived early. He shrugged off the Brotherhood, saying they were no longer relevant in Egypt. "They are finished as far as I'm concerned,' he says. 'Absolutely finished. They have no support of the people."

    But the mood in the Muslim Brotherhood stronghold was different on Friday. Despite the arrest of many of their leaders, many thousands turned out to insist Morsi be reinstated. El Haddad said they will keep increasing the pressure on the military.

    Army tanks were on standby in different areas around the city, should the demonstrations deteriorate.

    Whatever the outcome, Friday's rallies reflect the deep political divisions in Egypt today and the challenges that interim president Adly Mansour faces in his attempts to unify the country.

    Watch related video

    Muslim Brotherhood: Democracy Under Threat in Egypti
    X
    July 12, 2013 6:46 PM
    Protests by supporters and opponents of ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi continue to roil Cairo more than a week after the Islamist leader was deposed by the military. The Muslim Brotherhood, which refuses to accept the ouster, or join the interim government, is saying the country's democracy is under threat. Sharon Behn has more from Cairo.]]

    Sharon Behn

    Sharon Behn is a foreign correspondent working out of Voice of America’s headquarters in Washington D.C  Her current beat focuses on political, security and humanitarian developments in Iraq, Syria and Turkey. Follow Sharon on Twitter and on Facebook.

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    Comments
         
    by: Godwin from: Nigeria
    July 13, 2013 10:09 AM
    See that they have no respect even for what they call holy. If it were a holy month as they said, they would have given it the honor due to it and renounce violence, after all there are other ways to go about their demand than just fanaticism and violence. Dialogue should have been employed if these people were truly a peace–loving group. But no. Their tendency is toward what they how best – pressure through force and more force until…. Which is a tendency toward terrorism. That has been the mindset and strategy of terrorism. The anti-Morsi group should not copy this approach and waste precious time in the square, after all their objective has been achieved and a viable political process is in progress, midwifed by the army – it must deliver. Let the anti-Morsi group return to their homes, offices and business to keep Egypt’s economic hub moving again. Let the sidewalks be alive again with people, as peace has returned to Egypt. Let the army, the police and national guard do their work of keeping innocent and law abiding citizens safe and secure in the quest for the economic revival of the once lively country, rest assured that the army is not going to disappoint the country in this matter. Just until the Morsi supporters recollect themselves and do the right thing – vacate the streets for the political process to begin.

    by: ali baba from: new york
    July 13, 2013 3:08 AM
    it seems to me that Isla mist want impose themselves by any means necessary . .they know that nobody like them .they saw how many people are against them. now the problem in the hand of the Gov. they act quickly to disable the evil of Muslim brotherhood by using the same methods which are used during Mubarak and Nasser .they have to kept in jail

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