Anti-army protests staged at Egyptian universities
Hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood supporters stage rally outside Cairo University
Hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood supporters chanted “Down with the military government” outside Cairo University today, defying Egypt’s army-backed authorities despite deadly clashes with security forces two days earlier.
Supporters of deposed president Mohamed Morsi had urged university students to protest against the army following the violence on Sunday, one of Egypt’s bloodiest days since the military ousted the Islamist leader on July 3rd.
The death toll from Sunday’s unrest rose to 57, state media said, with 391 people wounded.
Army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, whom the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood accuses of staging a coup, kept Egyptians guessing about his political ambitions, declining to confirm or deny whether he would run for president. “I think the time is not suitable now to ask this question while the country is passing through challenges and dangers that require us to be focused,” he said in an interview on the website of the Al Masry Al Youm daily. “God wills what will be,” he added.
General Sisi is the lead villain for Morsi supporters who accuse him of working with security forces to eliminate the group through violence and arrests, allegations the military denies. “We are here standing against the coup,” said Enas Madkour, a 19-year-old fine arts student at the march near Cairo University, where security forces had parked two tanks and blocked the main road with barbed wire. “I’m against Mursi but I’m not for people killing others and I’m not for the military government we have now,” said Mr Madkour, who wore a headscarf, as most Muslim women do in Egypt. Some students dismissed those views. “Sisi is a hero and there’s no one like him,” said Rania Ibrahim (18). “Morsi was a traitor and the Brotherhood are dogs!” her friend added. Small protests also occurred at Helwan University in southern Cairo, witnesses said. At Zagazig University, northeast of Cairo, pro-Brotherhood students clashed with residents and Brotherhood opponents with fists, sticks and stones, security sources said. Eight people were wounded.
Security forces killed hundreds of pro-Mursi protesters in Cairo in August and then arrested many Brotherhood leaders. Today, the government revoked the registration of a non-governmental organisation set up by the Brotherhood in March to enable it to operate legally.
Last month, a court banned the Brotherhood and froze its assets, pushing the group, which had dominated elections since Hosni Mubarak’s fall in 2011, further into the cold.
A court is due to hear an appeal of that decision on October 22nd. The army has presented a political plan it promised would bring fair elections, but the Brotherhood has refused to take part in the transition, saying that would legitimise a coup.
Tamarud, the youth movement that had called for mass protests which pushed the army to depose Mr Morsi, said in a statement it would run in parliamentary elections, expected to take place early next year.