Egypt tightens security after four killed in clashes
Calls for protests amid plans to celebrate anniversary of 1973 attack on Israeli forces in the Sinai
A demonstrator with members of the Muslim Brotherhood and supporters of ousted Egyptian president Mohamed Mursi, gestures the number four, during a protest against the military in Rabaa al-Adaweya square in Cairo yesterday. Photograph: Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Reuters
Signs of the “Rabaa” or “four” are seen during a protest against the military by members of the Muslim Brotherhood and supporters of ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi near Rabaa al-Adaweya square in Cairo. The signs are in reference to the police clearing of Rabaa al-Adawiya protest camp on August 14th and demonstrations organised in Egypt for October 6th. Photograph: Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Reuters
Egyptian authorities warned the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood today against staging violent protests and tightened security in all cities and strategic installations after clashes yesterday killed at least four people.
Supporters of deposed Islamist president Mohamed Mursi yesterday mounted their boldest demonstrations since troops crushed their protest camps demanding his reinstatement on August 14th.
Both opponents and supporters of the Brotherhood have called for mass protests tomorrow, when the country plans to celebrate the anniversary of an Egyptian attack on Israeli forces in the Sinai during the 1973 war.
“The Ministry of Interior asserts its determination on confronting violence and infringements of the law by Muslim Brotherhood supporters,” a ministry statement said.
“Security has been stepped up on highways, in all cities and at important installations. The Ministry of Interior warns against attempting to spoil the 6th of October commemoration.”
The military boosted its presence around Tahrir Square - where hundreds of thousands of Egyptians demonstrated during the revolt that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak in 2011 - after clashes yesterday in several cities.
Political tensions have gripped Egypt and hammered the economy since the army ousted Mr Mursi in July, installed an interim government and presented a political roadmap it promised would bring fair elections.
In an apparent attempt to reassure Egyptians concerned by instability, prime minister Hazem el-Beblawi said in a statement to the nation today that “evil elements” still posed a danger but had lost much of their power, a reference to Islamist militants.
Mr Beblawi said the political roadmap was “taking its natural course” and that he hoped it would conclude soon. He said the economy was starting to improve and “there were clear signs and reassuring indicators”.
Authorities have cracked down hard on the Brotherhood, which won every election since Mubarak’s fall but became unpopular during Mursi’s rule, with many Egyptians accusing him of trying to acquire sweeping powers and mismanaging the economy, allegations he denies.
The Brotherhood accuses the military of staging a coup and sabotaging Egypt’s democracy by removing Mr Mursi, the country’s first freely-elected president.
On August 14th, Egypt’s military-backed authorities smashed the two pro-Mursi sit-ins in Cairo, with hundreds of deaths, and then declared a state of emergency and imposed a curfew.
Many of the Brotherhood’s leaders have been arrested since, raising fears that members of the movement might resort to violence against the state.
Attacks by Islamist militants in the Sinai, which borders Israel, have risen sharply since Mursi was toppled. Concerns are growing that an Islamist insurgency will take hold beyond the Sinai.
In September, a Sinai-based militant group claimed responsibility for a failed suicide bombing against the interior minister in Cairo. (Reuters)