Mass pro-Mursi protests in Egypt
EGYPT, Cairo : Supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and ousted Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi raise pictures of the toppled leader and wave the national flag during a demonstration in Cairo, on July 19, 2013. (AFP PHOTO /MARWAN NAAMANI)
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Mass protests in support of deposed president Mohamed Morsi have taken place across Cairo and other parts of the country since the early afternoon hours of Friday.
Hundreds of thousands of pro-Morsi demonstrators marched and rallied to condemn what they say was a military coup against the country's first democratically elected leader.
Meanwhile, thousands of anti-Morsi demonstrators have flocked in the early evening hours to the Ittihadiya presidential palace and Tahrir Square to celebrate 'the success' of the 30 June that toppled Morsi as well as the anniverssary of Egypt's victory over Israel in the 10th of Ramadan/ 6th of October 1973 war.
Egyptian army's Apache hellicopters threw gift vouchers to anti-Morsi protesters at the presidential palace in Cairo's Heliopolis district, Al-Ahram Arabic news website reported on Friday night.
In Sinai, two civilians were killed and one wounded earlier on Friday when suspected Islamic militants fired rockets at an army checkpoint El-Arish in Egypt's restive peninsula, medical and security sources said.
The assailants hit a residential house by mistake, and one of those killed had his legs and head blown off in the attack, hospital sources said.
In Egypt's Nile Delta city of Mansoura, two bystanders – a woman and child – were killed late Friday night during clashes between supporters and opponents of ousted president Mohamed Morsi protesters, Al-Ahram Arabic news website reported.
Live rounds, birdshot and knives were used, leaving 7 injured, according to witnesses who talked to Al-Ahram Arabic news website.
Back in Cairo, in the early hours of Saturday morning, both rival camps stood their respective grounds.
Early Friday afternoon, a number of pro-Morsi marches converged outside Cairo University in Giza, an area that has hosted many pro-Morsi rallies ove the past weeks.
Other marches made their way to Rabaa Al-Adawiya Mosque in Cairo's Nasr City, where Morsi supporters have been protesting since the days leading up to ouster on 3 July.
Military helicopters flew endless sorties over pro-Morsi rallies across the capital through out the day and night.
Protest leaders at Rabaa Al-Adawiya called on demonstrators to march to the nearby Republican Guard headquarters, the venue of clashes between Morsi supporters and the army that killed at least 51 on 8 July.
Ahram Online reporter Ahmed Eleiba said soldiers had stopped tens of thousands of Morsi supporters en route from Rabaa Al-Adawiya Mosque to Abbassiya where the ministry of defence is located.
"Soldiers have been heavily deployed along Salah Salem Road in Nasr City and other major streets near the march."
Muslim Brotherhood leaders took part in the march, Eleiba added. Protesters were chanting "Peaceful, peaceful!"
"Egyptians participated today after they recognised that 30 June [protests] were exploited to carry out a coup against the democratic course, and that their freedom, dignity and right to choose have been attacked," Muslim Brotherhood spokesman Uasser Mehrez said on Friday.
He also condemned what he described as widespread media blackout against Islamist protests.
Meanwhile, well-known writer Mohamed Abdel Kodous, who was taking part in a pro-Morsi Giza march, said protesters will remain steadfast until the president and the legitimacy is back, Al-Dostour Al-Assly reported.
The pro-Brotherood writer, who is a longstanding member of the executive board of the Journalists' Syndicate, said that no negotiations with the army will take place unless arrested Brotehrhood leaders are released and the freezing of their assets is lifted.
Abdel Kodous went on, however, to slam the 'extremist' discourse at the main pro-Morsi vigil outside Rabaa Al-Adawiya Mosque saying it has repulsed the public.
Anti-Morsi protesters have said they are concerned that supporters of the ex-president will approach Tahrir Square and the presidential palace, raising the spectre of fresh violence.
Security measures had been stepped in the vicinity of Tahrir Square in an attempt to prevent clashes.
No clashes took place near Tahrir on Friday night.
Meanwhile, tens of supporters of Egypt's former president Mohamed Morsi protested on Friday night outside Cairo's Media Production City (MPC) – home to most private Egyptian television and radio stations – accusing the media outlets of anti-Islamist bias.
In the early hours of Saturday, hundreds of supporters of the ousted president were organising a march from Istiqama Mosque in Giza Square to the nearby Islamist sit-in in Nahda Square, paralysing traffic and forcing citizens to walk
Tahrir celebrates army 1973 victory
Thousands at Tahrir paid tribute to the martyrs of the 6 of October War as several banners were put up in praise of the soldiers who sacrificed their lives to defend Egypt's land.
Many set off fireworks and held the national flag chanting "Long live Egypt."
In addition, protesters held up posters of military commander-in-chief and Defence Minister Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, who has recently gained popularity after the army deposed Morsi on 3 July amid mass nationwide protests against him.
Hundreds had started gathering on Friday at the main stage in the square shortly after breaking their Ramadan fast after sunset.
Parents of martyrs killed in violent clashes over the past couple of years spoke on stage and called upon Egyptian authorities to bring those responsible to justice.
The event was organised by Rebel (Tamarod) campaign, which spearheaded the 30 June protests, and the 30 June Front.
Thousands have also gathered at the presidential palace in Heliopolis to commemorate the anniversary of the 1973 war.
Meanwhile, military planes dropped national flags on the crowds in Tahrir. Jet fighters also carried out air-shows in the skies of Cairo to commemorate the 10th of ramadan anniversary. Consequently, Cairo International Airport halted air traffic for a period of 2 hours between 3pm and 5pm and from 5pm to 6pm per request by the Egyptian Air Force.
Pro-Morsi demonstrators also hail 1973 war
Morsi loyalists also marked the anniversary of Egypt's victory over Israel in the 1973 war with Israel, an event celebrated as a national and military victory, despite recent tensions between the Islamists and Egypt's army.
There is a difference between the "army and the murderous coup leaders," Hassan Ibrahim, secretary-general of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), said on the main stage of the Rabaa Al-Adawiya protest in Cairo's Nasr City on Friday evening.
"The Egyptian people embraced the army forty years ago when it defeated the Zionists in the 1973 War." he told the protesters.
"[However], there should be a clear distinction between those who carried out the coup [against Morsi] and the rest of the Egyptian army that we appreciate and trust," Ibrahim said.
Pro-Morsi demonstrators outside Cairo University in Giza held their shoes in the air, in an act of insult, as military planes flew across the sky Friday afternoon.
The FJP’s website also reported that protesters at Rabaa Al-Adawiya chanted "God is great" [Allahu Akbar] as the planes passed overhead. The website described the action as an act of threat from the army saying that the protesters "only fear their God."
Military planes flew across the capital and several governorates on Friday to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Egypt's military victory against Israel during the 1973 war on Friday.
Islamists storm hospital grounds
In the late afternoon hours, tens of Morsi loyalists have stormed Friday the Abbasiya Hospital for Mental illnesses, climbing through the fences before setting camp in the hospital's garden.
The move came after roughly five thousand pro-Morsi protesters, according to Al-Ahram Arabic news website, blocked the Salah Salem road in both directions near the Abbasiya Hospital, causing the traffic to come to a standstill.
In the early evening hours, the military fired teargas in the evening at a group of pro-Morsi protesters near the presidential palace in Heliopolis, in a bid to hold them back from accessing a nearby street, where rival anti-Morsi rallies are taking place, state news agency MENA reported.
Protesters, however, continued to attempt to push past the army lines. Troops responded by firing more volleys of teargas to disperse the crowd, MENA added.
One of the protest organisers called on 50 women to move to the frontline in the fight to deter the army from attacking the march.
Morsi supporters mobilise nationwide
Supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi protested across Egypt's governorates on Friday.
Thousands gathered at Alexandria's Al-Qaed Ibrahim Mosque and chanted anti-military slogans such as "[army chief] El-Sisi, Morsi is my president."
In Gharbiya's Tanta hundreds called for Morsi's return to the presidency.
In Sharqiya's Zagazig protesters chanted slogans such as "Say it strong, Morsi is the president" and "We are not afraid of the thugs, we will protect ourselves by legitimacy."
The army committed a coup against Egypt's legitimate president, Ahmed Shehata, the Freedom and Justice Party's leader in Zagazig, told Al-Ahram Arabic news website.
Hundreds gathered in Fayoum after Friday prayers. They called for army chief Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi to stand trial for "carrying out a coup" against Morsi.
In Upper Egypt's Beni Suef, thousands called for the reinstatement of Morsi and the suspended constitution. They chanted against El-Sisi and the 'pro-coup' media.
Thousands rallied in Marsa Matrouh in north western Egypt after Friday prayers.