News / Middle East

Violence Feared as Egypt Braces for Rival Protests

General Abdel Fattah al-Sissi is seen during a news conference in Cairo, May 22, 2013.
General Abdel Fattah al-Sissi is seen during a news conference in Cairo, May 22, 2013.
Reuters
Supporters of deposed President Mohamed Morsi and the army that toppled him prepared for rival protests on Friday as the prime minister warned of violence, with the country more polarized than at any time since Hosni Mubarak was overthrown in early 2011.

Army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sissi has called on Egyptians to take to the streets to show their support for action against “violence and terrorism.” Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood, organizing its own marches on Friday against Sissi, fears the army appeal is a harbinger of a wider crackdown.

Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawy, head of the interim cabinet, said there were escalating attacks on government institutions by increasingly well-armed protesters.

“The presence of weapons, intimidation, fear - this causes concern, especially when there are calls for many to come out tomorrow from different sides,” he told a news conference.

After a month in which more than 100 people, most of them Morsi supporters, have died in violence triggered by his downfall, many fear the protests will lead to more bloodshed.

One security official forecast violence beginning Friday night and stretching into Saturday. “The history of Egypt will be written on those days,” said the official, part of a security establishment that accuses the Islamists of turning to violence.

Reiterating his group's commitment to peaceful protest, senior Brotherhood politician Farid Ismail accused the security services of readying militias to attack Morsi supporters, adding that Sissi aimed to drag Egypt into civil war.

“His definition of terrorism is anyone who disagrees with him,” Ismail told Reuters. “We are moving forward in complete peacefulness, going forward to confront this coup.”

Uncompromising

Sissi's speech on Wednesday pointed to the deepening confrontation between the Brotherhood and the military establishment, which has reasserted its role at the heart of government even as it says it aims to steer clear of politics.

Saying it moved against Morsi in response to the biggest popular protests in Egypt's history, the army installed an interim government that set out a plan to hold parliamentary elections in about six months, to be followed by a presidential vote.

The Brotherhood, whose supporters have been camped out in a Cairo suburb for a month, says it wants nothing to do with the transition plan. With Morsi still in military detention at an undisclosed location, there is slim hope for compromise.

The country remains deeply divided about what happened on July 3. The Brotherhood accuses the army of ejecting a democratically elected leader in a long-planned coup, while its opponents say the army responded to the will of the people.

The Brotherhood's political opponents have swung behind the army's call for rallies. “There are men carrying guns on the street ... We will not let extremists ruin our revolution,” said Mohammed Abdul Aziz, a spokesman for Tamarud, the anti-Morsi petition campaign that mobilized the protests against his rule.

“Tomorrow we will clean Egypt,” he told Reuters.

Sissi announced the nationwide rallies after a bomb attack on a police station in Mansoura, a city north of Cairo in which a policeman was killed. The government said it was a terrorist attack. The Brotherhood also condemned the bombing, accusing the establishment of seeking to frame it to justify a crackdown.

Since Morsi was deposed, hardline Islamist groups have also escalated a violent campaign against the state in the lawless Sinai Peninsula, with daily attacks on the police and army.

The army says Sissi's speech did not represent a threat to any party, reiterating the military's backing for national reconciliation. The army spokesman said any violence at the forthcoming rallies would be dealt with decisively.

At the Brotherhood protest camp in front of a Cairo mosque, some Morsi supporters forecast trouble ahead.

“The army itself will strike. They will use thugs and the police,” said Sarah Ahmad, a 24-year-old medical student.

Essam El-Erian, another senior Brotherhood politician, accused “the putschists” of trying to recreate a police state. “This state will never return, and Egypt will not go backwards,” he said in a televised news conference.

You May Like

Video Indiana Controversy Points to Divergent Notions of Religious Freedom

Arkansas, North Carolina have approved similar laws that gay-marriage opponents say help maintain their beliefs in face of changing culture More

UNICEF Denies North Korean Measles Outbreak

Agency dismisses Russian media report after government, WHO assurances More

Turkey Seen Taking Harder Stance Against Militant Kurds

Stance comes as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is being seen as moving closer to generals More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedomi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 01, 2015 1:41 AM
Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Welcome Buhari's Return to Power

Crowds of jubilant Nigerians nationwide have celebrated the return to power of former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari. The retired army general won this year's presidential election with more than 2 million votes more than incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan. Buhari's supporters hope he can strengthen the country's economy and security once he takes office in late May. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Gamma Ray Observatory to Open Soon in Mexico

American and Mexican scientists have completed construction of the world's largest gamma ray observatory, situated high in central Mexico’s Sierra Negra Mountain. The observatory's huge array of water-based detectors will soon start discovering secrets about black holes and supernovas. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More