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Saturday, July 27, 2013

Egypt faces massive rival protests nationwide

Egypt's Friday protests
Egyptians took to the squares and streets of Cairo, Alexandria, Suez and other Egyptian governorates nationwide to participate in the rival protests on Friday, 26 July.

Supporters of Egypt’s Armed Forces and their measures responded to the recent call of Egypt’s Chief of Armed Forces Abdel Fattah El-Sissi to demonstrate on Friday in attempt to show the popular support of the state’s army and security forces and to “give the mandate” to start the “war against violence and terrorism” in Egypt. This statement was made by El-Sissi on Wednesday amid the ongoing violent clashes between the supporters and opponents of Egypt’s President Mohamed Morsy ousted by military and the security forces which left nearly hundred people dead and hundreds of injured since the ouster of Morsy on 3 July and the terrible violent attacks in Sinai Peninsula committed by the terrorist militants against the army and police personnel resulted in the deaths of more than 20 people and dozens of wounded.

The call made by the Armed Forces’ leadership for the Egyptian citizens urging them to demonstrate in attempt to support the army’s measures and actions in the fight with the violence and terrorist acts have been supported by several political forces and powers, including Rebel movement backed the popular 30 June revolution. But at the same time several political powers and groups Giza who have been protesting against both the Muslim Brotherhood and army as well claiming they both have no right to engage in the country’s politics.

Some violent clashes have erupted on Friday during the rival protests in Cairo, Alexandria, Suez, Ismailia and other governorates as well. The protesters have been clashing with the rival groups throwing the rocks and stones at each other. Military and security forces have been firing tear gas in order to disperse the crowds, and the military presence was hardened on the streets of Egyptian cities.

Alexandria clashes though have left 4 people dead and more than 140 wounded, according to the Health Ministry of Egypt. The clashes erupted between the demonstrators during the Friday protests have left several hundreds injured nationwide.

I’d like to share here Ahram Online report regarding the Friday rival protests in Cairo and in Egypt nationwide. The article is originally published here.

Protests across Egypt as rival factions rally supporters

Demonstrations in response to the military's call for protests against 'terrorism' and rival rallies by Mohamed Morsi's supporters take place all over Egypt

Ahram Online, MENA, Friday 26 Jul 2013

Protests are ongoing on Friday in a number of Egyptian governorates, some in support of the Egyptian military and its request for a popular “mandate” to fight “terrorism and violence,” and others to call for the reinstatement of ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.

Egypt's protesters and army
Four people were killed on Friday, including a 14-year-old boy, in clashes in Alexandria between supporters and opponents of deposed president Mohamed Morsi, according to health ministry officials, while over 140 were injured.

The clashes reportedly broke out in Mahatet Al-Raml district in Egypt’s second-largest city after pro-military protesters who were marching against “terrorism” passed near a demonstration by supporters of Morsi at Al-Qaed Ibrahim Mosque.

According to Ahram’s Arabic news website, security forces fired teargas in the vicinity of the clashes to disperse protesters.

At Sidi Gaber station, around four kilometres from downtown Alexandria, hundreds of protesters have gathered holding pictures of army chief and defence minister Abdel Fattah El-Sisi , chanting “no to terrorism."

In Ismailia on the Suez Canal, a large march started in front of the governorate headquarters on Friday afternoon and moved through the city before dissipating, with a plan to re-gather after evening Taraweeh prayers at approximately 10pm for a march and demonstrations in support of the army.

The marchers chanted against Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood and held pictures of El-Sisi. El-Sisi on Wednesday had called on Egyptians to take to the streets to give the army a “mandate” to confront “violence and terrorism.”

In Port Said, initial pro-military marches arrived at Shohada Square in the afternoon, with more planned following Taraweeh prayers.

In Suez, a major site of anti-regime protests during the January 25 revolution, the National Salvation Front (NSF) planned a number of marches to that city's Shohada Square in support of El-Sisi’s call. There was also a march from nearby rural areas into the city to support the protests.

Egypt's protests 
According to an NSF Suez spokesperson, the famous Semsemeya folk songs of the Suez Canal region will be played from a podium in the square.

Thousands poured into Thawra Square in Mansoura, the capital city of Daqahliya governorate in the Nile Delta, in support of the military’s call. Police and popular committees are protecting the demonstrations, which started soon after Friday afternoon prayers.

Other marches arrived in the city from the surrounding villages and smaller cities to partake in a mass iftar, the meal which breaks the Ramadan fast at dusk.

In Damanhour, pro-military protesters gathered in Al-Saa Square, carrying police and army soldiers responsible for securing the protests on their shoulders and chanting in support of El-Sisi and against Morsi and the Brotherhood.

A pro-military demonstration in the northern city of Desuq in Kafr El-Sheikh governorate started after Friday afternoon prayers and toured various neighborhoods in the city, chanting "we mandate you", "all Egyptians mandate you", and also chanting for the police. A mass iftar was then held by protesters in Al-Ibrahimi Square.

The northern city of Damietta also saw thousands gathering in its main square, Horreya, to demonstrate against “terrorism.” Two podiums had been erected and were broadcasting patriotic songs, and an iftar was held in the square.

In Menoufiya in the Delta, demonstrations on Friday afternoon took place at the main governorate building in response to El-Sisi’s call. Protesters were watched over by police and popular committees, and an iftar was held.

Ahram Online's map of the protests in Egypt
Restive Sinai also saw demonstrations. The north Sinai city of Beir Al-Abd witnessed thousands of citizens demonstrating around the central bus station in support of police and army, raising Egyptian flags and photos of El-Sisi. The capital of Sinai, Al-Arish, also saw a pro-military demonstration in the hundreds. In the south Sinai city of El-Tor a public iftar was served in front of the governorate building, with Christians joining Muslims for the meal, before the group started protesting and chanting pro-military slogans.

Reuters also reported that a separate pro-Morsi demonstration took place in Al-Arish on Friday afternoon.

In Beni Suef, south of Cairo, pro-military protests were held, organised by the anti-Morsi Rebel campaign and other anti-Morsi groups.

In upper Egypt, hundreds of protestors poured into Shohada Square in the city of Aswan. Two protests were present in the square on Friday evening, one pro-military and one pro-Morsi.

The two sides signed an agreement promising not to attack one another to avoid clashes. Popular committees carrying photos of El-Sisi were in place to protect protesters.

In the southern city of Assiut, protesters responding to El-Sisi’s call gathered in front of the governorate headquarters to hold an iftar. At sunset, church bells rang at the same time as the call for prayers, announcing the time for Muslims to break their day-long fast.

Egypt's Friday protests 
In the southern city of Minya, a march ny Morsi supporters distributed flyers to citizens on Friday afternoon asking them to avoid leaving their homes, saying that doing so implies they give the army licence to kill them. The march started in the south of the city and joined an ongoing pro-Morsi sit-in.

The southern city of Sohag also witnessed early marches by pro-Morsi protestors, starting from Thaqafa Square, the largest of the city's squares where the protesters had been gathering since Thursday night.  The demonstrations, led by the pro-Morsi National Alliance in Support of Legitimacy, have been circulating the city since the morning.

Supporters of El-Sisi plan to hold marches on Friday evening in a different square.