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 One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs