Brotherhood fails to bring out huge numbers on ‘Martyrs’ Friday’
Rallies take place day after Mubarak release
Demonstrators hold up four fingers during a protest against the military-backed government in the Muhandisin neighbourhood of Cairo yesterday. Raising four fingers has become a symbol to honour the Morsi supporters killed last week in clashes with security forces near Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque. Photograph: Bryan Denton/The New York Times
Thousands marched in Egypt’s cities and towns yesterday, dubbed “Martyrs’ Friday”, to protest against the deaths of more than 600 supporters of deposed president Mohamed Morsi during last week’s dispersal of Muslim Brotherhood sit-ins.
The rallies took place 24 hours after former president Hosni Mubarak was released from prison and transferred to the Maadi military hospital from where he is due to be taken to court tomorrow to face charges of complicity in the killing of 846 civilians during the 2011 uprising that toppled him.
Thousands participated in marches around the country, though most events involved just several hundred people. Many carried yellow placards bearing a black image of the four fingers of a hand, representing the Arabic numeral “arbaa,” which rhymes with Rabaa, for Rabaa al-Adawiya, site of the largest sit-in and the most fatalities.
Some carried portraits of Mr Morsi, held incommunicado since his ousting on July 3rd. Men held up four fingers of yellow gloved hands, while women bore pictures of slain friends and relatives.
In the Giza, Mohandessin, and Shubra districts of greater Cairo, marchers were halted by residents before they reached sensitive destinations. Security forces had prohibited sit-ins and warned against violence.
The army had deployed armoured vehicles at the entrances to Cairo’s central Tahrir Square, the cradle of the revolution, and at the Ittihadiya presidential palace, traditional sites of anti-Morsi rallies. The scorched mosque at Rabaa al-Adawiya was sealed.
Fist fights between pro- and anti-Morsi factions broke out outside Fateh mosque near Ramses Square after a preacher voiced support for the army. “If the army is brought down, Egypt will become just like Syria,” said Sheikh Khaled Salama, who also condemned attacks on churches.
Last Friday pro-Morsi marchers, who had been set upon by residents and vendors, took refuge in the mosque and were extricated after 24 hours. Among those detained were the four Irish Halawa siblings – Somaia (27), Fatima (22), Omaima (20) and Ibrahim (17) – who have been remanded in custody for 15 days pending investigations.
Support for the Brotherhood’s protest campaign has waned since the sit-ins were disbanded. Between 1,000 and 1,800 pro-Morsi activists have been arrested, including 75 senior Brotherhood leaders.