Egypt security deploys as Morsi supporters rally
By SARAH EL DEEB and
TONY G. GABRIEL
CAIRO -- Hundreds of supporters of Mohammed Morsi took to the streets today, holding scattered rallies across the city in a test of whether the ousted Egyptian president's allies can keep up the pressure on the government despite the arrest of much of their senior leadership.
Protesters chanted against the military and held up posters of the president on smaller streets and outside neighborhood mosques, dodging main thoroughfares and squares where military and security forces deployed in strength ahead of the rallies, sometimes behind barbed wire barricades.
The demonstrations come a day after deposed autocrat Hosni Mubarak was released from prison and placed under house arrest in a military hospital in southern Cairo, adding to tensions.
Morsi's allies sent live-feed video to reporters from the different rally sites, a move designed to make up for the shutting down of a number of Islamist TV stations following his ouster. State and private media covered some of the pro-Morsi protests.
In one rally outside a mosque in Giza, Cairo's sister city, Mamdouh Mostafa, a 42-year-old accountant, said he was undeterred by the arrests or violence against demonstrators.
"I will keep protesting until our legitimate president comes back," he said. "Even if this means that we have to die for our cause."
"And he will come back and resume the Islamic project," Mostafa said. "We are not afraid of death or thugs or the police or the army."
Since Morsi's ouster, hundreds of Egyptians have been killed in the worst bout of violence since 2011. Hundreds of Brotherhood members, including senior leaders, also have been arrested.
The rallies today are the first since Brotherhood spiritual leader and supreme guide Mohammed Badie was arrested and accused of instigating violence. Another 80 Brotherhood members, including senior leaders and spokesmen, were taken into custody on the eve of the rallies.
Morsi's supporters have not mentioned Mubarak's release in their calls for demonstrations, but dozens of activists from revolutionary groups opposed to both Morsi and to Mubarak gathered outside Cairo's high court amid tight security to protest it.
Mubarak still is facing trial on charges of complicity in the killing of nearly 900 protesters during the 2011 uprising against him. But his release was viewed by many who rebelled against him as a setback in their campaign to hold him accountable for years of abuse and corruption.
Morsi supporters have kept up protests since July 3, when he was ousted by the military after millions took to the streets.
Amid the intensive crackdown, pro-Morsi rallies have petered out in recent days. A nighttime curfew was put in place by the country's interim authorities last week, following major violence.
Morsi's critics accused the Islamist president of trying to monopolize power, letting his Muslim Brotherhood take over state institutions and ignoring real calls for reform.
His defenders counter he was up against pro-Mubarak officials who conspired to block him, and the military leadership sought to undermine Egypt's progress toward democracy.
On the Facebook page of the Brotherhood's political party, the group said the rallies are against the coup and those seeking to "capture" the January 25 uprising that ousted Mubarak.
Since Morsi's ouster, hundreds of Egyptians have been killed in the worst bout of violence since 2011. Hundreds of Brotherhood members, including senior leaders, have also been arrested.
Today, soldiers deployed around the capital, closing off downtown's Tahrir square to traffic and setting up barbed wire at some of its entrances.
Armored vehicles were deployed around the presidential palace and near the Rabaah al-Adawiya mosque, where Morsi supporters had a sit-in for weeks that was violently dispersed Aug. 14, resulting in the deaths of hundreds.
During today's rallies, protesters raised yellow stickers showing an open palm with four raised fingers, which has become a symbol for the Rabaah sit-in.
In one protest in northern Cairo, demonstrators raised a banner that read: "Mubarak and his aides acquitted while the Egyptian people are hanged."
Despite the standoff, the country's interim government pushed ahead with its road map for a post-Morsi political transition. A first draft of an amended version of the now-suspended constitution was finalized and published in local media, the first step toward changing the Islamist-backed charter that fueled opposition to Morsi.