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Thousands protest in Tunis against Mursi’s ouster

Published: Updated:

Several thousand people protested in central Tunis on Saturday against the Egyptian army's overthrow of Islamist president Mohamed Mursi.

The protest was called by Tunisia's ruling Islamist Ennahda party.

Waving the flags of both Tunisia and Egypt, which both saw long-standing autocratic regimes toppled in Arab Spring uprisings, demonstrators thronged the city center.

“Down with military power!” and “No to the force of arms, yes to the ballot box! and “The people want Mursi back!” were among slogans they chanted.

Speakers at the rally roundly denounced Egypt's Tamarod (Arabic for Rebellion) movement whose massive mobilization of the people led to Mursi's eventual downfall.

They also shouted slogans against Egyptian military chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

“This military coup was inspired by outside parties and aims to overthrow Arab Spring Islamist governments,” said protester Salem Achour, 42, draped in Egypt's colours.

“It's a war against Islam.”

One speaker spoke to demonstrators through a loudhailer, addressing Mursi supporters who have been gathered for days at the Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque in Cairo.

“We call on our Egyptian brothers at Rabaa al-Adawiya to stand firm until victory,” he shouted.

There was a heavy security presence in central Tunis for the authorized protest, after permission for a previous pro-Mursi demonstration organized by Ennahda was rejected last week.

The day after the July 3 coup that toppled Mursi, the opposition party Nidaa Tounes demanded the departure of the ruling Islamists in Tunisia and a government of national unity.

A Tunisian Tamarod movement on July 4 launched a petition calling for the dissolution of the National Assembly.

President Moncef Marzouki has ruled out the risk of Tunisia's elected authorities being deposed in the wake of Mursi's ouster, but also stressed the need to “pay attention” to popular demands.