Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 28 August 2014

Egypt cuts curfew as unrest wanes

A man walks through Tahrir Square where a few protesters have built their camp protesting against the release of Hosni Mubarak in Cairo, Egypt (AP)

Egypt's government has shortened a widely-imposed evening curfew, signalling that it senses turmoil is waning after unrest following the ousting of the president.

The Cabinet's decision on Saturday to cut the curfew by two hours came as Egypt's interim prime minister vowed that his government's priority is restoring security.

Egypt experienced one of the deadliest bouts of violence in recent days since its Arab Spring began in 2011. Nationwide clashes and attacks killed more than 1,000 people after the security forces cleared two Cairo sit-ins belonging to supporters of toppled President Mohammed Morsi, overthrown in a military coup on July 3.

Since the unrest spiked, much of Egypt has been under a military-imposed nighttime curfew. Responding to citizens' demands, the government said on Saturday that the 11 hour-long curfew would be in place daily for just nine hours.

However, the full curfew would remain in place for Fridays, the first day of the weekend in Egypt and when last week's protests were incredibly fierce. The easing of the curfew was announced a day after calls for protests by Mr Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood group largely fizzled out.

The announcement came as many were rushing to try to make it home before the curfew hours began. The curfew has choked Cairo's bustling night life and the revenue of many businesses, hotels and restaurants.

In recent days, Cairo, a metropolis of some 18 million people, began to regain a sense of normalcy. The capital, however, remains under a state of emergency that gives security forces broad powers to arrest.

Security forces have used those powers to go after the Brotherhood's top and mid-level figures, including the group's supreme leader Mohammed Badie. Most are being accused of inciting violence.

Late on Saturday, security forces said they arrested Mohie Hamed in a Cairo apartment. It was not immediately clear what charges he faces. He was a presidential adviser to Mr Morsi and a former member of the Brotherhood's political guidance bureau.

Authorities have alleged that Morsi supporters are committing acts of terrorism and point to a string of attacks against churches and government buildings. Morsi supporters deny their protests are violent, accusing authorities of smearing their movement and trying to cripple the once-powerful party.

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