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Posts tagged ‘Uprising in Egypt’

Mursi Supporters to Stage Mass Protests On Friday, Start Civil Disobedience

28 August 2013

The National Alliance to Support Legitimacy called for nationwide protests to take place on Friday and for a civil obedience to start then to “restore the revolution and have deposed President Mohamed Mursi to return to the presidency,” said a statement they issued on Wednesday.

In their statement, the Islamist umbrella group for supporters of the ousted president said they will hold a press conference on Thursday to announce the details of Friday protests.

Describing the demonstrations staged by Mursi supporters throughout the past two weeks, the statement said, “The Egyptian people are being enslaved yet again. The crowds protesting across the country reveal the people’s rejection of the state of emergency and curfew imposed.”

Source: allAfrica.

Link: http://allafrica.com/stories/201308281478.html.

Protesters encircles governor’s office in Al-Siwees

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets in al-Siwees governorate protesting against the massacres in Rabaa al-Adawiyya and al-Nahda Squares.

The protesters closed the streets leading to the headquarters of the governorates office. They also seized one of the army’s armored vehicles in the area.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: http://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/6903-protesters-encircles-governors-office-in-al-siwees.

After hundreds of deaths, Egyptians called on to protect protesters

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

The Pro-Legitimacy National Alliance in Egypt has called on Egyptians to take to the streets in order to halt the aggressive attacks against protesters being carried out by the police.

The National Alliance said gatherings would be held at Assad al-Furat Mosque, al-Istiqama in Giza, al-Fatah in Ramsis and al-Nour in al-Abassiya.

Egyptian police began attack against protesters at Rabaa al-Adawiyya and al-Nahda Squares today at dawn.

A prominent leader of the Freedom and Justice party, Mohamed al-Beltaji, said that the number of deaths at the field clinic at al-Adawiya exceeded 300, with thousands wounded, including women and children.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: http://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/6895-after-hundreds-of-deaths-egyptians-called-on-to-protect-protesters.

Protests swell, prompt Egypt to postpone dispersal

August 12, 2013

CAIRO (AP) — Supporters of toppled President Mohammed Morsi increased the pressure on Egypt’s interim leadership by defiantly flooding into two protest camps Monday, prompting police to postpone moving against the 6-week-old sit-ins because they feared a “massacre.”

Morsi’s Islamist backers have rejected negotiations with the military-backed government, leaving the most populous Arab nation in an uneasy limbo. Still, the delay by the security forces gave the Sunni Muslim world’s top religious institution more time to try to ease the political tensions with a new initiative.

Authorities also showed no signs of meeting key demands by Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood to release top Islamists who have been detained and face criminal investigations. A judge ordered the deposed president, detained since he was overthrown July 3, to be held for 15 more days pending investigations of charges he conspired in 2011 with Palestinian militants, a judicial official said.

As news leaked that police were going to cordon off access to the sit-in sites early Monday, protesters took to the streets by the tens of thousands, and many made their way into the protest camps, whose populations include many women and children. Authorities said they wanted to “avoid bloodshed” and delayed taking any action.

The Anti-Coup Alliance, which works with the Brotherhood, said in a statement that the swift response of the people to come to the main sit-in site at the Rabaah al-Adawiya Mosque “is a great message to all parties that deserves our utmost respect.”

The group also urged police not to respond to orders to blockade the sit-ins. “Their rifles and bullets must only target enemies of Egypt,” the group said. For weeks, the government has been warning protesters to disperse, describing the sit-ins as a security threat.

The Interior Ministry has depicted the encampments as a public danger, saying 11 bodies bearing signs of torture were found near both sites. Amnesty International has also reported that anti-Morsi protesters have been captured, beaten, subjected to electric shocks or stabbed. At least eight bodies have arrived at a morgue in Cairo bearing signs of torture, the human rights group said.

Reporters Without Borders said two journalists were beaten by Morsi supporters while covering a Brotherhood march Friday in Cairo. The group also criticized “harsh measures” taken by authorities against news media supportive of the Brotherhood, saying 52 journalists were arrested since Morsi’s removal from office.

Both the protesters and the security forces blame each other for using live ammunition in two major clashes near the Rabaah encampment that have killed at least 130 Morsi supporters. Further violence threatens not only to delay the transition to a democratically-elected leadership, but could also further weaken the economy after more than two years of political instability.

The protests — a main tool of expression after the closure of pro-Brotherhood TV channels — have also stopped traffic and cut off main roads, and are being used by the Morsi camp as a political tool to increase pressure on the interim leadership.

After night fell Monday, speakers at the Rabaah sit-in led the flag-waving crowd in chants of “The police are thugs!” and “Islamic law, not secular law!” Some in the throng hoisted children up on their shoulders as they cheered, waved and made V-for-victory signs.

Security officials in charge of riot police units said they had been given notice Sunday to prepare their forces to cordon off the Rabaah site and another protest across town near Cairo University in Giza. Reports emerged of units coming to Cairo from around the country to take part in the operation.

The security forces had planned to form cordons around the two sites as early as dawn Monday, allowing protesters to leave but preventing others from getting in, to minimize casualties before using water cannons and tear gas, officials told The Associated Press.

After thousands streamed in and swelled the size of the sit-ins, however, security officials became concerned about the increased chance of bloodshed, and they decided not to move on the camps. “We were stunned by the masses” who came to the camps, one military official told the AP, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media. He added that a push into the sit-ins would trigger a “massacre.”

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said Washington was “very deeply concerned today about the potential for violence in Egypt.” “From the start, we’ve emphasized to those within Egypt that violence only sets back the eventual cause that they claim to be working for and need to allow people to protest peacefully,” she added.

While the delay in using security forces to end the sit-ins has helped ease tensions that had spiked overnight, Egypt remains on edge as to how the standoff will end. Morsi was deposed by the military after massive demonstrations across the country June 30, demanding he step down over what protesters saw as his failure to govern inclusively and manage the economy. Many accused him of acting only on behalf of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Last month, hundreds of thousands rallied in the streets to answer a call by Egypt’s military chief, Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, to give him a mandate to act against “potential terrorism” by Morsi’s supporters.

The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights warned Monday that associating terrorism with the Brotherhood allows the military and police to use full force to preserve national security, shifting the debate to stability rather than on human rights and democracy.

Meanwhile, nearly two weeks of efforts by the international community to end the standoff and find a peaceful resolution failed. A locally negotiated solution also faces obstacles. Influential Brotherhood member Mohammed el-Beltagy said he turned down an offer by the head of Al-Azhar, the Sunni Muslim world’s top religious institution, to negotiate a solution. El-Beltagy said top Al-Azhar cleric Ahmed el-Tayyib was not an impartial mediator because he backed the coup.

However, public figures close to the Brotherhood have been approached to take part in the Al-Azhar talks. Another Brotherhood figure, Saad Emara, dismissed efforts to negotiate a solution, saying the group doesn’t recognize the “initiatives from the post-coup era.”

“The key to a resolution is the return of legitimate institutions, including the president,” Emara said. Harf, the State Department spokeswoman, said the U.S. was “continuing to engage with all parties to push towards an inclusive, democratic process.”

She added that the U.S. was urging “an end to all politically motivated arrests and detentions and emphasize that this won’t help Egypt move beyond the crisis.” Sectarian violence, meanwhile, has flared in southern Egypt, and insurgents have battled the military in the Sinai, with Morsi’s removal appearing to have lifted the lid on Islamic militancy in various parts of the country.

“The country is at a standstill,” said Abdel-Rahman al-Bagi, part of a group of anti-Morsi demonstrators camped in Cairo’s Tahrir Square since his overthrow. “Nothing is functioning because of the Muslim Brotherhood.”

The Brotherhood sought to use the momentum of support from those who joined the two pro-Morsi sit-ins Monday to organize more marches. One protest disrupted traffic across a major bridge in Cairo. Another saw about 100 marchers in a metro station holding pictures of Morsi and demanding he be reinstated.

Protesters have been fortifying the sit-ins camps. In Rabaah, men with helmets, sticks and what appeared to be protective sports equipment guarded barricades made of sandbags, truck tires and bricks. They have also built three concrete waist-high barriers against armored vehicles.

Brotherhood spokesman Gehad el-Haddad says they have no plans to back down. “If they disperse one, we create two,” he said.

Associated Press writer Matthew Lee in Washington contributed to this report.

Morsi supporters defy police warnings to disperse

August 02, 2013

CAIRO (AP) — Egypt’s military-backed government offered protection Thursday to supporters of deposed President Mohammed Morsi who end their two sit-ins — widely seen as a first step toward dispersing the vigils on opposite sides of Cairo.

But the protesters responded defiantly: “Over our dead bodies!” The standoff underscored the ongoing political crisis since the armed forces toppled Egypt’s first democratically elected leader on July 3: thousands in the streets demanding Morsi’s reinstatement, a government unable to exert its authority, and recurrent violence that has killed more than 260 people.

Rights groups, activists and politicians from rival camps, fearful of more bloodshed, tried to ward off any use of force, including a suggestion of putting a human chain around the protest sites. International pressure grew for the interim government to release Morsi and create a process that includes his Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s largest political faction, which refuses to deal with the new authorities.

Despite a government warning that it would disperse the vigils, the Brotherhood and its supporters announced plans to organize new mass marches Friday, dubbed “Egypt Against the Coup.” Organizers of the sit-ins outside the Rabaah al-Adawiya Mosque in eastern Cairo and a smaller one near Cairo University’s main campus in Giza say the protests are signs of the enduring support for the once-dominant Muslim Brotherhood…

… U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry picked up that theme, telling Geo TV in Pakistan that the military was “restoring democracy.” He added that millions of people had asked the army to intervene because they were afraid Egypt would descend into violence.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague spoke to interim Vice President Mohammed ElBaradei, calling for a peaceful resolution to the crisis. “I also called for the release of all political detainees, including Dr. Morsi, unless there are criminal charges to be made against them,” he said.

There was no sign of a break in the stalemate. Security officials, pro-military media and some residents near the sit-in sites increasingly view the encampments as a menace, with authorities accusing protesters of stockpiling arms, torturing and killing suspected intruders, and scuffling with locals who voice complaints.

While the protesters insist their gatherings are peaceful, the sit-ins have taken on increasingly fatalistic religious overtones, and many of Morsi’s supporters have expressed readiness to die for their cause — defending him and Islam.

The only sign of security activity before sunset Thursday was an army helicopter that flew low over the protesters. “The Interior Ministry … calls on those in the squares of Rabaah al-Adawiya and Nahda to listen to the sound of reason, side with the national interest, and quickly leave,” Interior Ministry spokesman Hany Abdel-Latif said in a televised address.

“Whoever responds to this call will have safe passage and protection,” he added. The declaration followed a Cabinet decision Wednesday to charge the Interior Ministry, which controls the police, to disperse the sit-ins, arguing they posed a threat to national security and terrorized citizens.

But the protesters said they won’t back down from their continued opposition to the military coup. They “will continue in spite of threats, and will not be made to back down from their right to peaceful protests and sit-ins, regardless of the strength of their opposition,” a statement said.

From the podium outside the Rabaah al-Adawiya Mosque, one speaker shouted, “Did you see that the criminal army wants to break up the sit-in? Over our dead bodies!” The crowd shouted in agreement: “The coup is terrorism!”

The demonstrators also chanted “Execute el-Sissi!” Loudspeakers blared songs supporting Morsi. The protesters fortified the site, piling up sandbags at its six entrances and adding new guards who stood on alert with their helmets and sticks, sometimes climbing over the gates to check for movement. At one entrance, a second wall of concrete blocks, sandbags and tires was erected.

Medhat Ali, a teacher guarding the gates, said lines of men near the fences will be the first to warn of an impending attack. “If they see military or police, they will alert us, and in no time the masses inside will pour in to sleep on the asphalt under their vehicles and troops,” he said proudly. “We have nothing but some stones and our bare chests. We all have bid our families farewell. We will die here — or Morsi returns.”

Another protester, Magdi Shalash, dismissed the Interior Ministry warning, calling it an attempt to scare away supporters. “This warning is like nothing. It is like air. We don’t even listen to it,” said Shalash, a university professor. “We will only leave as dead bodies.”

Rally speakers and leading members of the Brotherhood urged more people to join the protest. In a video posted on the Brotherhood’s Facebook page, Mohammed El-Beltagi urged those at home to “join us and get the honor of martyrdom.”

An influential ultraconservative cleric gave an emotional appeal to authorities to avoid violence, which he said will only lead to a cycle of bloodshed. “It is foolish to believe that the problem will end in one night and the conflict resolved in one battle,” Mohammed Hasaan, said in a 17-minute recording made in a mosque and aired on Al-Jazeera Mubasher Misr, a pro-Brotherhood broadcaster.

“Beware of blood. It will be a curse on those who shed it. The military entering a conflict with Islamists is a loss for it and a real win for the Jews,” he said, a reference to Israel. A military spokesman said its troops are not taking part in the moves against the sit-ins.

Egyptian police have a track record of deadly crackdowns on street protests, and Wednesday’s Cabinet move effectively gave security forces the mandate to act as they see fit. The Interior Ministry had said earlier it would not clamp down on the protesters but will take gradual measures, including warnings and the use of water cannons and tear gas to minimize casualties.

The U.S. Embassy said it will be closed Sunday — a normal working day. The U.S. State Department said it was shuttering its embassies and consulates throughout the Muslim world Sunday after receiving an unspecified threat. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf cited information indicating a threat to U.S. facilities overseas and said some diplomatic offices may stay closed for more than a day.

Members of rights groups, joined by activists, organized a visit to the sit-in in eastern Cairo to inspect the place, but it ended abruptly when it descended into a political argument. In a Facebook post, Seif Abdel-Fattah, a former Morsi adviser, called on all national groups and rights organizations to “go down and encircle (the two sit-ins) with human chains to stop the flood of blood.”

Meanwhile, a leading member of Tamarod, or Rebel — the campaign that spearheaded the petition for Morsi to step down — said it suggested that law enforcement officials inspect the squares to ensure there are no weapons. But Mahmoud Badr said his proposal was rejected by the pro-Morsi groups.

Late Thursday, a high-level African Union delegation visited the sit-in in eastern Cairo. The delegation had met on Tuesday with Morsi in a secret military facility where he has been detained since his ouster on July 3.

Privately, the Rabaah protesters acknowledge that their sit-in is their last bargaining chip against the military and loyal media that label the encampment as a launching pad for terrorists. Islamic militants also have been stepping up attacks against security forces in lawless areas in the Sinai Peninsula, raising fears that extremists could exploit the anger over Morsi’s removal to spread insurgency.

The Brotherhood has long been one of the most powerful political forces in Egypt, even during its decades in the opposition to autocratic leader Hosni Mubarak, himself ousted in a popular uprising in 2011. But after a series of election wins, including Morsi’s narrow victory last year, the group has fallen from favor.

Protests for Egypt’s ousted leader amid tension

July 20, 2013

CAIRO (AP) — With the military beefing up security, tens of thousands took to the streets Friday in a determined push for the return to power of Egypt’s ousted Islamist leader, while Mohammed Morsi’s opponents staged rival rallies, raising fears of a fresh round of clashes.

In the only reported deadly violence Friday, angry residents of the delta city of Mansoura clashed with pro-Morsi protesters. Gunshots and birdshots were fired, though it was unclear by whom, security officials said.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media, said a 25-year-old woman and a young girl were killed in the late night violence. A local rights activist who was at the hospital, Abdullah el-Nekeity, said three women were killed, including a 17-year-old girl, and 13 other people were injured.

El-Nekeity said a mob attacked the pro-Morsi demonstrators with dogs, gunfire birdshots and knives. The marchers fled, some hiding in residences until the police arrived, el-Nekeity said. A statement from Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood party said those killed were supporters of the ousted government and blamed hired thugs for shooting them.

The army warned it wouldn’t tolerate any violence and sent fighter jets screaming over the capital and helicopters hovering over the marches. Publicizing their protests for days, Morsi’s supporters vowed Friday would be decisive in their campaign to try to reverse the military coup that removed the country’s first democratically elected president after a year in office, following massive protests against him.

Unlike other demonstrations held in the evening after breaking the daylong Ramadan fast, the pro-Morsi rallies took place throughout the day. Organized by the Muslim Brotherhood party and dubbed “Breaking the Coup,” they included marches in Cairo’s streets, outside military installations and in other cities, including Alexandria and several Nile Delta provinces.

The rival gatherings came just days after a new interim Cabinet was sworn in that includes women, Christians and members of a liberal coalition opposed to Morsi, but no Islamists. The Muslim Brotherhood has refused to take part in talks with the interim leadership.

The country has been deeply polarized since the ouster of longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak in February 2011, following massive rallies. The divisions only deepened over the July 3 military coup supported by millions who accused Morsi of abusing his power and giving too much influence to his Muslim Brotherhood group.

Friday’s rallies coincided with the 10th day of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which Egyptians celebrate as the day their armed forces crossed the Suez Canal in the 1973 war with Israel. The surprise assault led to the return of the Sinai Peninsula, which had been occupied by Israel.

The occasion was a chance for the rival camps to focus on the military, which was instrumental in removing Morsi. At pro-Morsi gatherings, protesters extolled the virtue of the armed forces but drew a distinction with its leadership, which they accused of treason for turning against Morsi.

Waving Egyptian flags and pictures of the ousted leader, they chanted slogans against army chief Gen. Abdel-Fatah el-Sissi. “El-Sissi is a traitor!” they shouted. “Morsi is our president!” Organizers played Morsi’s old speeches, referring to him as the nation’s leader and the supreme commander of the armed forces.

“The problems of the first years could have been solved by dialogue, but the opposition always refused,” said 28-year-old Osama Youssef, who traveled to Cairo from the eastern province of Sharqiya to show his support for Morsi. “The opposition didn’t succeed in getting power through constitutional measures, so it chose to take power by staging a military coup.”

Sayed el-Banna, a 45-year-old Brotherhood member who came to Cairo from the Delta province of al-Sharqia, said it was important to have many people in the streets. “It is to send a message to those in the army who disagree with el-Sissi to stand with us and support us,” he said.

Meanwhile, several thousand anti-Morsi protesters gathered in Cairo’s Tahrir Square and outside two presidential palaces to celebrate their gains. “The people and the army and the police together against terrorism,” declared a banner stung across a stage set up at the presidential palace.

Army choppers flying overhead dropped gift coupons and Egyptian flags on the gathering in Tahrir Square and a police choir performed nationalist songs in a party that lasted late into the night. The presence in the streets of the rival sides had raised fears of clashes, and military and police were deployed heavily in areas where the two crowds might collide. In one incident, near the presidential palace, security forces lobbed tear gas at an approaching march by Morsi supporters to prevent it from reaching an area where anti-Morsi demonstrators were holding their own rally.

Only minor incidents of violence were reported in the capital. Pro-Morsi supporters and opponents shouted at one another after Friday prayers in the main Al-Azhar Mosque and police detained six Islamist protesters for throwing rocks. Separately, a man was stabbed and hospitalized when a crowd of the deposed president’s supporters questioned his identity and found out he was a policeman in civilian clothing.

In the Sinai peninsula, where militants long active in the area have intensified their attacks against security forces following Morsi’s ouster, two civilians were killed when armed militants fired rockets at a military checkpoint, but hit a residence nearby.

In a clear attempt to widen their base of support, Brotherhood members appealed to people join their rally, insisting the coup was about to be reversed. “To those hesitating, wake up, the time for the end of the coup is nearing,” senior Brotherhood leader Essam el-Erian wrote in a posting on his Facebook page.

Yasser Meshren, a Brotherhood supporter who came to Cairo from the southern province of Bani Sueif, accused the military of tricking the people by overseeing the elections only to then remove Morsi, disband the country’s interim parliament and suspend the constitution, which was approved in a referendum.

“You stole my mother and my sister’s voice,” Meshren said of the military leadership. During their marches, the protesters made a concerted effort to distinguish between the leaders of the military and the troops. At one point, a group of pro-Morsi supporters approached a military checkpoint offering them flowers.

Police and military troops and armored vehicles were deployed heavily in Cairo around security and military installations, court houses, and the capital’s entrances. Fighter jets flew over the protesters and military spokesman Col. Ahmed Mohammed Ali issued a stern warning on Facebook, telling civilians not to pose as military personnel or approach military installations or troops, saying anyone doing so risked death.

The military also dropped flyers warning against violence as a crowd of some 400 pro-Morsi protesters marched through northern Sinai’s main city of el-Arish. The flyers urged people to protect the Sinai Peninsula from “terrorists” and provided two numbers for people to call to report suspicious behavior.

Meanwhile, the Brotherhood said seven leaders of its parent group, including the former speaker of the parliament and an ultraconservative Salafi preacher, were transported to a heavily guarded prison, a move the group said was illegal because the men have not yet been charged. They have been accused, among other things, of inciting violence.

The ousted president, who has been replaced by interim leader Adly Mansour, has been held incommunicado at an undisclosed military facility since his ouster. He has not been charged with any crimes. The Brotherhood’s TV channel has been taken off the air along with other Islamic channels seen as sympathetic to the group. Al-Jazeera’s Egypt affiliate was raided by security forces, and on Friday, the channel’s signal, along with its flagship English and Arabic news channels, were intermittently interrupted. The reasons for the disruptions were not clear.

Pro-Morsi protester Mostafa Fathi, a 33-year-old accountant, said he viewed Morsi’s ouster and the closure of the TV channels as signs the country was targeting Islamists, as it did during Mubarak’s near three-decade-long rule.

“We don’t want to go back to a police state or a state of injustice.”

Associated Press writer Aya Batrawy contributed to this report.

Muslim Brotherhood Continues Protests

17 July 2013

Supporters of deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi are continuing their mass protests against the political transition underway in Egypt, following the formation of a new interim cabinet that has no members from Islamist parties.

Street demonstrations continued Wednesday outside Cairo’s main government buildings, demanding that Morsi be returned to power.

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton is visiting the Egyptian capital, and became the latest international figure to meet with interim Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi and interim President Adly Mansour.

Unlike U.S. envoy William Burns earlier in the week, Ashton also is expected to meet senior figures in Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood. The Islamist group insists the ousted president be reinstated and has refused to take part in any interim government.

The newly sworn in cabinet led by Beblawi is composed mainly of liberals and technocrats. It has seven holdovers from the previous administration, including the army chief Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who ousted Morsi, and serves as defense minister and deputy prime minister.

Three female ministers were appointed, filling the health, information and environment portfolios.

Morsi’s removal has bitterly divided Egypt, with thousands of his supporters maintaining a vigil in a Cairo square to demand his return, swelling to tens of thousands for mass demonstrations every few days.

Clashes overnight Monday into early Tuesday between security forces and supporters of Morsi left seven people dead and more than 260 injured. Authorities arrested more than 400 mostly pro-Morsi supporters following the fighting.

Source: allAfrica.

Link: http://allafrica.com/stories/201307171685.html.

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