Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 22 November 2014

Morsi supporters hold Cairo rallies

A supporter of Hosni Mubarak holds a poster of him and chants slogans before his release from jail (AP)
A supporter of Hosni Mubarak holds a poster of him and chants slogans before his release from jail (AP)

Hundreds of supporters of ousted Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi took to the streets of Cairo on Friday, holding scattered rallies across the city. Protesters chanted against the military and held up posters of the president on smaller streets and outside local mosques, dodging major roads and squares where military and security forces deployed in strength ahead of the rallies, sometimes behind barbed wire barricades.

The demonstrations come a day after deposed autocrat Hosni Mubarak was released from prison and placed under house arrest in a military hospital in southern Cairo, adding to tensions.

Mr Morsi's allies sent live-feed video to reporters from the different rally sites, a move designed to make up for the shutting down of a number of Islamist TV stations following his ousting. State and private media covered some of the pro-Morsi protests. In one rally outside a mosque in Giza, Cairo's sister city, Mamdouh Mostafa, a 42-year-old accountant, said he was undeterred by the arrests or violence against demonstrators.

"I will keep protesting until our legitimate president comes back," he said. "Even if this means that we have to die for our cause. And he will come back and resume the Islamic project. We are not afraid of death or thugs or the police or the army."

Since Mr Morsi's ousting, hundreds of Egyptians have been killed in the worst bout of violence since 2011. Hundreds of Brotherhood members, including senior leaders, have also been arrested.

Friday's rallies are the first since Brotherhood spiritual leader and supreme guide Mohammed Badie was arrested and accused of instigating violence. Another 80 Brotherhood members, including senior leaders and spokesmen, were taken into custody on the eve of today's rallies.

Mr Morsi's supporters have not mentioned Mr Mubarak's release in their calls for demonstrations, but dozens of activists from revolutionary groups opposed to both Mr Morsi and to Mr Mubarak gathered outside Cairo's high court amid tight security to protest over it. Mr Mubarak is still facing trial on charges of complicity in the killing of nearly 900 protesters during the 2011 uprising against him. But his release was viewed by many who rebelled against him as a setback in their campaign to hold him accountable for years of abuse and corruption.

Morsi supporters have kept up protests since July 3, when he was ousted by the military after millions took to the streets. Amid the intensive crackdown, pro-Morsi rallies have petered out in recent days. A nighttime curfew was put in place by the country's interim authorities last week, following major violence.

Since Mr Morsi's ousting, hundreds of Egyptians have been killed in the worst bout of violence since 2011. Hundreds of Brotherhood members, including senior leaders, have also been arrested.

On Friday, soldiers deployed around the capital, closing off central Tahrir square to traffic and setting up barbed wire at some of its entrances. Armoured vehicles were deployed around the presidential palace and near the Rabaah al-Adawiya mosque, where Morsi supporters had held a sit-in for weeks that was violently dispersed on August 14, resulting in the deaths of hundreds. Protesters raised yellow stickers showing an open palm with four raised fingers, which has become a symbol for the Rabaah sit-in. In one protest in northern Cairo, demonstrators raised a banner that read: "Mubarak and his aides acquitted while the Egyptian people are hanged."

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