Calls for million man march in Egypt

Muslim Brotherhood have called for a mass protest on Friday which could spark fresh clashes.

An Egyptian man, supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood and Egypt's ousted President Mohamed Morsi kisses a poster of him as worshipers gather for prayer outside Cairo's Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque on 11 July 2013. Picture:AFP

CAIRO- Egyptians are bracing themselves for mass protests after the Muslim Brotherhood called for a million man march on Friday.

Clashes over the past week have killed several people and left the Arab world's biggest nation bitterly divided.

The Brotherhood vows to continue with peaceful resistance against what it calls a bloody military coup against constitutional legitimacy after President Mohamed Morsi was ousted last week by the army.

But many of its opponents blame Islamists for the violence, and some have little sympathy for demonstrators who died, underlining how deep the fissures in Egyptian society are.

Vigilante Brotherhood supporters are expected to gather here early evening on Friday for a mass breaking of the fast.

This is the first Friday in the holy month of Ramadan and both sides say they are feeling renewed.

There are real concerns the situation could spiral out of control and again end in violence as it has on previous Fridays.

Officials say Morsi is still being held at the Republican Guard compound in Cairo, where troops killed 53 Islamist protesters in clashes on Monday.

Four soldiers were also killed in a battle the military says was started by terrorists.

Morsi's supporters say those who died were praying peacefully when troops opened fire.

Egypt's 84 million people have been shocked by the shootings, graphic images of which have appeared on state and private news channels and social media.

The incident came just three days after 35 people were killed in clashes between pro- and anti-Morsi demonstrators across the country.

"It's a very hard time for Egyptians, to see footage of blood and violence during the holy month of Ramadan, and everyone I speak to says the same thing," said Fateh Ali, a 54-year-old civil servant in Cairo.

"I really hope the situation gets resolved soon. I don't think we can afford this economically or psychologically."


The protests come as two US navy ships patrolling in the Middle East move closer to Egypt's Red Sea coast in what is being seen as a precautionary move.

The United States often sends Navy vessels close to countries in turmoil in case it needs to protect or evacuate U.S. citizens or give humanitarian assistance. Their presence does not mean it is preparing for military action.

Rich Gulf states have thrown Egypt a $12 billion lifeline in financial aid, which should help it stave off economic collapse.


Judicial sources say authorities are expected to charge Morsi in the coming days, although it is not clear for what.

The detentions and threats of arrest have drawn criticism from the United States, which has walked a diplomatic tightrope to avoid calling Morsi's ousting a coup.

US law bars aid to countries where a democratic government is removed in a coup. Washington, which gives Egypt's military $1.3 billion in aid each year, has said it is too early to say whether the Egyptian events meet that description.

The Egyptian army said it was enforcing the nation's will after millions of people, fed up at economic stagnation and suspicious of a Brotherhood power grab, took to the streets at the end of June to demand his resignation.

US Department of State spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on Wednesday Morsi's government "wasn't a democratic rule".

Her words were warmly received by the interim government and swiftly denounced by the Brotherhood.

However, on Thursday, Psaki expressed concern over the crackdown on Brotherhood leaders.

"If politicised arrests and detentions continue, it is hard to see how Egypt will move beyond this crisis."

Adly Mansour, the interim president named by the general who removed Morsi, has announced a temporary constitution as well as a faster-than-expected schedule for parliamentary elections in about six months.

He also has named liberal economist Hazem el-Beblawi as interim Prime Minister.

Negotiations are difficult, with the authorities trying to attract support from groups that range from secularists to ultra-orthodox Muslims, nearly all of whom expressed deep dissatisfaction with elements of the interim constitution.