Morsi supporters say they will not compromise

Concerns of violent clashes do not materialise in Cairo where tens of thousands gather in largely peaceful rallies.

    Morsi supporters say they will not compromise
    Morsi supporters say they will not back down [Reuters]

    Crowds have gathered all around Cairo on a day that was designed to pit supporters of the Egyptian military against those of deposed President Mohamed Morsi.

    A number of marches started early in the afternoon on Friday, flowing through the capital's already congested streets from multiple directions, gathering in numerous areas – Tahrir Square, the presidential palace, outside Cairo University in Giza – and more.

    Following news that Morsi was being detained for 15 days while prosecutors investigate allegations that he conspired with Hamas to carry out attacks during the 2011 uprising, the Muslim Brotherhood redoubled its calls for his reinstatement.

    "He hasn't been detained, he's been kidnapped," said Shaimaa Mohamed, 21, repeating the popular refrain among Morsi’s supporters at the rally outside Cairo University in Giza.

    "They're holding the legitimacy of his government for ransom," said Mohamed.

    "We'll never compromise – we won’t give that up until he returns to the presidency, with all of his powers returned and until the people responsible for all the deaths [of protesters] are held accountable."

    Meanwhile, in Tahrir Square, the heart of the 2011 revolution that saw the removal of long-time dictator Hosni Mubarak, a much larger crowd spent the day chanted pro-military slogans.

    They were there at the behest of Egyptian media, which backed a call on Wednesday by Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the defence minister and army chief, for huge pro-military rallies that, he said, would give the army the mandate to stop "violence and terrorism".

    Military muscle

    There were concerns of violent clashes.

    "The real apprehension is that the call came from El-Sisi," said political activist and analyst Wael Eskander, adding that where in some areas civilians had been engaging in clashes with the Muslim Brotherhood, the military had in effect stepped in and taken on that role.

    And the military certainly made its presence known.

    The area surrounding Tahrir Square was filled with a heavy security presence on Friday, with several streets blocked off with lines of armoured personnel carriers and trucks filled soldiers. There are also a number of civilian checkpoints in place, where those entering the square are asked for identification, questioned and searched.

    While the crowd in Tahrir was decidedly pro-military and pro-El-Sisi, not everyone heading there to give the military that support is sold on the notion of Egypt returning to military rule – something many in Cairo believe is inevitable.

    Ezzat Amin, 37, said he was going to the rally in Tahrir to "Just to see the end of my 2011 dream".

    "And if I had to blame anyone, I blame this on the MB," said Amin, referring to the Muslim Brotherhood. “The MB is just the other side of the Mubarak coin."

    Still, he’s not in favour of an Egypt that is run by the military and does not see his presence at the rally as an anti-terrorism statement.

    Indeed, El-Sisi's statement prompted strong responses from  rights groups such as the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, which issued a statement on Thursday saying that Egypt already has laws to counter terrorism and that an "extralegal" mandate is not required to maintain peace and stability.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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