Middle East

Egypt protests continue as diplomats fly in

Police fire tear gas as pro-Morsi rallies to try and disperse crowds as US undersecretary of state flies in.

Last Modified: 03 Aug 2013 05:07
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The United States stepped up its diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis in Egypt, sending its top Middle East official to Cairo as protests continued against military rule.

On Saturday, Middle East envoy William Burns began his second visit to Egypt since the army's removal of Mohamed Morsi from the presidency last month.

Opponents of military rule clashed with police in the the 6th October suburb of Cairo on Friday, with police firing teargas to disperse protesters who had tried to storm the Media Production City, where satellite television channels are based.

Thousands of protesters chanted "down with [the Commander of Armed Forces] Sisi, Morsi is our president," as they waved Egyptian flags and posters of the deposed leader.

It is unclear whether US Under-Secretary of State Burns will meet members of the Muslim Brotherhood as part of the efforts to resolve Egypt's political crisis.

The Brotherhood criticised US Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday for saying that the Egypt's military had been "restoring democracy" when it toppled Morsi. Washington has avoided calling his removal a coup.

Guido Westerwelle, German foreign minister, and Catherine Ashton, EU foreign policy chief, recently visited Egypt for talks to get over country's political crisis. 

Torture claims

However, the diplomatic push to get the two sides talking came as Amnesty International claimed anti-Morsi protesters were captured, beaten and stabbed by pro-Morsi rivals during recent protests.

Survivors told the London-based rights-group that since the rallies began in June - eight bodies have been identified at the morgue with signs of torture.

Amnesty said that the capture and torture of anti-Morsi protesters often happens after violent clashes.

The Egyptian campaign group “I am Against Torture” told Amnesty it had independently verified that 11 people died after being tortured by Morsi supporters.

Anti-military rallies continued early on Saturday in Cairo's Rab'a al-Adaweya Square and Giza's Nahda Square, the key spots for protests, amid raising fears of renewed violence.

Supporters of Morsi began new marches after Friday prayers, pouring out of several Cairo mosques and heading towards their two key protest sites.

Gehad el-Haddad, spokesman for Muslim Brotherhood, talks to Al Jazeera on Rabaa and Nahda sit-ins

The latest demonstrations were a direct rebuke to authorities who have urged protesters to "let reason prevail" and end weeks-long rallies.

State television on Friday said security authorities will place a cordon around pro-Morsi camps before clearing them.

In an interview with Al Jazeera, Gehad el-Haddad, the spokesman for Muslim Brotherhood, said: "Rabia (el-Adawiya Mosque) and Nahda (Square near the main campus of Cairo university) sit-ins are both peaceful assembly sit-ins by peaceful citizens, standing up for their democratic right.

"No one has the right to disperse them and any claims of using violence illegally to do so are the responsibility of the military coup, leadership and interim government. We hold them accountable for any bloodshed."

Morsi has been formally remanded in custody on suspicion of offences when he broke out of prison during the 2011 revolt that toppled former president Hosni Mubarak.

He was detained hours after his removal from power and is being held at an undisclosed location, where his family has been unable to see him.


Al Jazeera and agencies
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