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Divided Egyptians rally to denounce, support Mursi’s ouster

Published: Updated:

Egyptians took to the streets on Friday to support or denounce the ouster of former Islamist president Mohammad Mursi with the army warning it would crackdown on any acts of violence, stressing its point by flying fighter jets over Cairo.

Waving Egyptian flags, along with portraits of the deposed Mursi, Islamists marched in Cairo, Alexandria and several other cities along the Nile Delta, enouncing what they termed a military coup.

“We are coming out today to restore legitimacy,” said Tarek Yassin, 40, who had travelled to Cairo from the southern city of Sohag, underscoring the Brotherhood’s deep roots in the provinces, according to Reuters. “We consider what happened secular thuggery. It would never happen in any democratic country,” he said.

In Cairo’s iconic Tahrir Square, thousands held a demonstration to support the military-led overthrow of Mursi and the transitional roadmap for change.

Egypt’s armed forces looked in no mood to make concessions to Islamists, putting on a show of force in the hazy skies above Cairo.

“We are following the progress of the protests and are ready for all events or escalation,” said a military official, asking not to be named as he was not authorized to talk to the media, according to Reuters.

At least 99 people have died in violence since Mursi’s removal on July 3, more than half of them when troops fired on Islamist protesters outside a Cairo barracks on July 8. Seven people died earlier this week in clashes between opposing camps.

“They (the Brotherhood) now know the people are not with them and have had it with them after what happened to them and their country this past year,” the officer said.

The army has dismissed any talk of a coup, saying it had to intervene after vast protests on June 30 against Mursi, denounced by his many critics as incompetent and partisan after just a year in office.

It has called for a new constitution and a swift new vote, installing an interim Cabinet that includes no members of theBrotherhood or other Islamist parties that triumphed in a string of elections following the fall of Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

The Interior Minister in charge of police, Mohammed Ibrahim, issued a statement on the ministry’s Facebook page cautioning the ousted president’s supporters against going to Tahrir Square and warning both sides against committing acts of violence, the Associated Press reported.

The rival gatherings came just days after a new interim Cabinet was sworn-in that includes women, Christians and members of a liberal coalition opposed to Mursi, but no Islamists. The ousted president’s Muslim Brotherhood party has refused to take part in talks with the interim leadership.

The country has been deeply polarized over the July 3 military coup that was supported by millions who accused Egypt’s first democratically elected leader of abusing his power and giving too much influence to his Brotherhood group.

(With Reuters and AP)