Egypt braces for rival protests on Morsi ouster

Supporters and opponents of ousted Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi launched rival protest rallies on the first Friday of the holy month of Ramadan.

Cairo: Supporters and opponents of ousted Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi launched rival protest rallies on the first Friday of the holy month of Ramadan, as the deeply polarised Arab nation remains on edge after nearly 100 people were killed in violence earlier this week.

Morsi`s supporters chanting anti-military slogans gathered in their thousands in eastern Cairo to call for his reinstatement.

After Friday prayers, Muslim Brotherhood supporters said they would head for the presidential palace and the Republican Guard headquarters, where they believe 61-year-old Morsi, the country`s first democratically president is being held.

Morsi`s opponents whose mass protests led to his removal by the military last week, are expected to mass at the iconic Tahrir Square.

Reports on Thursday also said that prosecutors are planning to investigate allegations that Morsi and other Muslim Brotherhood leaders escaped from jail in 2011 with the help of the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas.
The Brotherhood leaders had been arrested two days earlier, in the midst of the 2011 revolution that overthrew long-time dictator Hosni Mubarak, and sent to prison.

Morsi`s supporters have been staging mass protests throughout the week near the Presidential Guard barracks in eastern Cairo, where they believe he is being held.

The focal point of the protest is the Rabaa al-Adawiya Mosque, where they are camping out around the clock in their thousands, BBC reported.

The Brotherhood is not planning any marches but organisers hope a massive turnout will show support snowballing in their favour.

Thousands came for midday prayers outside the mosque today despite the heat and lack of food and drink, in what is expected to be a full day of protests.

Morsi`s supporters say they don`t want violence, but given the bitterly polarised situation, with emotions running high on both sides, fears of an escalation are ever present.
Morsi`s opponents are planning rallies at Tahrir Square, including a mass Iftar or break in the fasting.

Morsi was removed on July 3 - a year after he was elected - following protests by millions across Egypt, and interim President Adly Mansour took over.

While the new authorities have not specified where Morsi is, a foreign ministry spokesman has said he is in a "safe place" and being treated in a "very dignified manner".

Morsi`s ouster sparked deadly violence in which scores of people were killed early this week as on Monday alone more than 50 Morsi loyalists died in clashes with the army.

The Muslim Brotherhood`s spiritual leader, Mohammed Badie, and nine other senior figures were charged on Wednesday with inciting Monday`s violence, despite conflicting accounts of the incident. Badie`s whereabouts are not known.

Mansour has set a timetable for a new constitution and elections, but Morsi`s supporters have rejected the plan and some political groups opposed to him say they were not consulted about it.

Meanwhile Hazem al-Beblawi, appointed as prime minister on Tuesday, has said he could offer cabinet posts to the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood but the FJP has rejected the offer.

PTI

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