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Morsi backers brace for Cairo crackdown

Updated: 2013-08-13 08:04
( China Daily/Agencies)

Morsi backers brace for Cairo crackdown

A member of the Muslim Brotherhood and supporter of deposed Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi balances a ball during a soccer match with pro-Morsi soccer players, around Cairo University and Nahdet Misr Square where they are camping in Giza, south of Cairo August 11, 2013. [Photo/Agencies]

Supporters of deposed president Mohammed Morsi urged Egyptians to take to the streets on Monday to thwart any police crackdown on two Cairo protest camps manned by thousands of Islamists for weeks.

Security sources and a government official had said police action to close the camps would begin at dawn, despite the risk of violent clashes with those seeking Morsi's reinstatement, but nothing happened and the demonstrators vowed to stay put.

A pro-Morsi grouping, which includes the Muslim Brotherhood, called for nationwide rallies against the military, which toppled Egypt's first freely elected leader on July 3.

"The alliance calls on the people of Egypt in all provinces to go out on marches on Monday and gather everywhere," it said in a statement that also proclaimed plans for "a million-man march" on Tuesday against what it called a military coup.

At al-Nahda camp, centered on a traffic roundabout and extending down a palm tree-lined boulevard next to Cairo Zoo, protesters lolled in the shade of tents away from the mid-afternoon sun. The mood was solemn, but not fearful.

Asked about the threat to dismantle the camps, Ahmed Shargawy, a 23-year-old translator, said: "They said that 15 days ago, too. They always say they are going to finish it."

After a six-week standoff, the authorities are keen to end the sit-ins, where women and children are among the protesters, and accuse Brotherhood leaders of inciting violence.

Western and Arab envoys and some senior Egyptian government members have pressed the army to avoid using force as it tries to end the crisis in the troubled Arab nation of 84 million.

Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy said the right to peaceful protest will be guaranteed and every effort is being made to resolve the situation through dialogue, but he suggests there is a limit to the government's patience.

"It is not reasonable for any democratic government to have to accept sit-ins where violence is being used and the security of citizens and the country is being threatened," state news agency MENA quoted Fahmy as saying in an interview with the BBC.

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