Morsi backers call for marches to foil Egypt crackdown

Officials had said police would move at dawn to disperse the camps in what could prove a bloody confrontation with those seeking Morsi`s restitution, but by midday they had not done so.

Last Updated: Aug 12, 2013, 17:24 PM IST

Cairo: Supporters of deposed President Mohamed Morsi urged Egyptians to take to the streets on Monday to foil any police crackdown on two Cairo protest camps that Islamists have manned for weeks.

Officials had said police would move at dawn to disperse the camps in what could prove a bloody confrontation with those seeking Morsi`s restitution, but by midday they had not done so.

A pro-Morsi grouping, which includes the Muslim Brotherhood, called for nationwide rallies against the military, which toppled Egypt`s first freely elected leader on July 3.

"The alliance calls on the people of Egypt in all provinces to go out on marches on Monday and gather everywhere," it said in a statement.

Security sources and a government official had said police would begin operations against the two sit-ins early on Monday to end a six-week street standoff between crowds demanding Morsi`s reinstatement and the army-installed government.

Western and Arab envoys and some senior Egyptian government officials have pressed the army to avoid using force as it tries to end the crisis in the troubled Arab nation of 84 million.

Morsi`s defiant supporters have fortified the protest camps with sandbags and piles of rocks in anticipation of a crackdown.

"We expect anything to happen any time. The talk about dispersals doesn`t affect people, we are staying here," said protester Assam Abu Ammar at the biggest camp in northeast Cairo.

One security source said action against the protesters had been delayed because larger crowds had arrived at the protest camps after news broke that a crackdown was imminent.

Army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who ousted Morsi, has come under pressure from hardline military officers to break up the Brotherhood sit-ins in the capital, security sources say.

Almost 300 people have been killed in political violence since Morsi`s overthrow, including dozens of his supporters shot dead by security forces in two incidents.

Egypt has been convulsed by political and economic turmoil since the 2011 uprising that ended 30 years of autocratic rule by U.S.-backed President Hosni Mubarak, and the most populous Arab nation is now more polarized than any time for many years.

There is deepening alarm in the West over the course taken by Egypt, which sits astride the Suez Canal and receives $1.5 billion a year in mainly military aid from the United States.

Morsi became president in June 2012. But concerns he was seeking an Islamist autocracy and his failure to ease economic hardships led to mass rallies prompting the army to oust him.

Since then Brotherhood leaders have been sentenced to jail for inciting violence. Morsi is detained in an unknown location.

Reuters