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

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

Ali Regained Title in Historic Fight 40 Years Ago

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid