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Violence Feared as Egypt Braces for Rival Protests

Egyptians are gearing up for rival mass rallies on Friday by those who support the army's ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi and those who demand he be reinstated.

Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi, head of the interim cabinet, has expressed concern about possible violence. He says there were escalating attacks on government institutions by increasingly well-armed protesters.

Egypt's highest security body, the National Defense Council, issued a statement Thursday saying authorities are committed to ensuring the safety of all peaceful protesters, but warned that no tolerance would be shown to anyone who threatens security.

It also pledged that authorities would stay within the law and the boundaries of human rights when measures are taken to end the "terrorizing of citizens and breaking the law."

Meanwhile, the leader of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood made unusually harsh comments about the country's military chief, saying his ouster of Mr. Morsi was a worse crime than destroying the Kaaba, Islam's holiest shrine, would be.

Mohammed Badie's remarks against General Abdel Fattah el-Sissi underlined the anger felt by Islamists over the July 3 removal of President Morsi, which followed mass protests by millions demanding the veteran Brotherhood figure step down.



General Sissi has called on Egyptians to rally in the streets Friday and give him a mandate to confront "violence and potential terrorism." Mr. Morsi's supporters say Sissi's call is aimed against them. They are organizing their own marches Friday.

More than 100 people have been killed since the military toppled President Morsi, including attacks by militants in the northern Sinai. Pro- and anti-Morsi factions blame each other for starting the violence. Mr. Morsi has not been seen since he was placed under house arrest July 3.

The Egyptian military named the interim government and promises to hold elections and restore democracy.

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