Egypt Islamists vow new demos as crisis grows


A woman chants slogans in front of a poster of Egypt’s ousted president Mohamed Morsi during a demonstration condemning the recent deadly military crackdown on pro-Morsi protesters in Cairo on Saturday at New Mosque in Istanbul. AFP PHOTO

CAIRO: Supporters of ousted Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi announced new demonstrations on Sunday as the country grew increasingly polarized and the death toll in four days of violence topped 750.

The fresh protests come after violent standoff between Islamists and security forces at a mosque in central Cairo on Saturday that briefly turned the area into a battleground.

Security forces traded fire with gunmen inside the Al-Fath mosque before eventually dragging protesters outside, where angry mobs awaited them, chanting “terrorists.”

The interior ministry said 385 people inside the mosque had been arrested, and the government gave new death toll figures that brought the number of dead in four days to 751.

Despite the violence, the Anti-Coup Alliance of Morsi supporters said they would hold several rallies in Cairo and elsewhere.

The announcement suggested there was no end in sight to the street confrontations that have gripped Egypt since Morsi’s ouster.

There was renewed speculation that the government would move to ban Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood, although the military-installed interim presidency appeared to dismiss the idea.

“We’re not into the effort of dissolving anyone or preventing anyone” from taking part in politics, presidential adviser Mustafa Hegazy insisted on Saturday.

More than 1,000 people have been killed since mass demonstrations against Morsi at the end of June.

He was deposed by the military on July 3 in what his supporters call a coup, but his opponents deem a popular uprising like the one that overthrew president Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

The ouster, and the subsequent bloodshed has drawn mounting international criticism.

On Saturday night, Germany and Qatar jointly condemned the “brutal violence” and United Nations (UN) chief Ban Ki-moon urged “maximum restraint.”

The government said 173 people had been killed in 24 hours, in addition to 578 killed on Wednesday, when police cleared two pro-Morsi protest camps.



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