Cairo: Egyptian police have arrested 40 supporters of ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood during protests after Friday's prayers in Cairo and Egypt's second city Alexandria, Egyptian security officials said.
The officials say protesters shouted slogans against the police and armed forces and blocked traffic in scattered marches in Alexandria after today's prayers. Those arrested were in possession of "incendiary leaflets," fireworks, digital cameras and a laptop, police said. Security forces said police also found buckshot rounds and a knife on demonstrators arrested in Giza, a district of the capital. The officials spoke anonymously because they were not authorised to brief reporters.
The Brotherhood and other Morsi supporters have continued to hold small, scattered weekly protests despite a sweeping crackdown launched after his July 2013 ouster. More than 1,000 people, mainly Morsi supporters, have been killed in street clashes since then and thousands more, including Morsi and several top Brotherhood leaders, have been arrested.
Last year the government designated the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organisation, and officials regularly accuse it of being behind a series of bombings and other attacks that have mainly targeted security forces.
The Brotherhood insists it is committed to peaceful protests and has condemned the violence. More radical groups, including an armed group in the Sinai Peninsula inspired by al Qaeda, have claimed most of the attacks.
Prior to today's demonstrations, a coalition of Morsi's supporters released a statement saying "the Revolution will persist peacefully in the streets and squares."
Last year the government issued a law banning all demonstrations that haven't received prior government approval -- a move sharply criticised by rights groups. The law was issued less than three years after massive protests in Cairo's Tahrir Square ended the autocratic rule of President Hosni Mubarak, who had been in power for nearly 30 years.