Egypt braces for rival protests on 1973 October War anniversary

Members of the army at the tomb of late President Sadat during the 40th anniversary of the 1973 war. (Reuters)

Egypt on Sunday braced for rival demonstrations called by supporters and opponents of ousted Islamist President Mohammad Mursi, marking the 1973 Arab-Israeli war anniversary.

The protests come after attempts by Islamists to reach Cairo’s Tahrir Square on Friday sparked clashes with Mursi opponents and police forces leaving at least four people dead making it the deadliest street fighting in more than a month.

Opponents of Mursi, which include the Tamarod movement that led a campaign against him earlier this year, began gathering at the square from Saturday evening chanting pro-military slogans, an Agence France-Presse correspondent reported

“We call all Egyptians to come out tomorrow across all squares in the country to assert that this nation will not allow its revolution to be stolen,” prominent Tamarod leader Mahmoud Badr told reporters Saturday.

Authorities deployed several armored vehicles around the square and installed metal detectors at two entrances to allow people inside. All other entrances were sealed, AFP reported.

The interior ministry warned against “attempts that may disturb the October 6 celebrations in Egypt,” state news agency MENA quoted it as saying.

“The ministry asserts its determination to firmly confront all violence and infringements of law by the Muslim Brotherhood supporters through their marches.”

Mursi, the Muslim Brotherhood affiliated president was ousted and jailed by the army on July 3, following nationwide protests asking for his resignation.

The Anti-Coup Alliance, the Pro-Mursi Islamist group led by the MBs has repeatedly called for protests against the military's overthrow of Mursi, but its ability to mobilize large crowds has declined as security forces have arrested more than 2,000 Islamists including several top Muslim Brotherhood leaders.

“The Egypt Anti-Coup Alliance repeats its call to all Egyptians to continue their protests in every part of Egypt, and to gather in Tahrir Square on Sunday, October 6, to celebrate the army of that victory and its leaders,” the pro-Mursi Islamist group led by the Muslim Brotherhood said Saturday.

Interim President Adly Mansour has also called on Egyptians to take to the streets to commemorate the day. In a televised speech on Saturday he said that authorities will “defeat much-hated terrorism and blind violence with the rule of law that will protect the freedom of citizens and resources.”

The conflict, known as the October war in the Arab world and the Yom Kippur war in Israel, is remembered proudly by the Egyptian army as it caught Israel’s defenses unawares and led ultimately to Egypt’s recovery of the Sinai Peninsula in the 1979 peace treaty.

(With AFP)

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