Several thousand Egyptians protested in Cairo Friday in support of ousted president Mohammed Mursi and were attacked with tear gas by police forces.
In the capital’s Nasr City district, thousands marched holding pictures of those killed in days of violent clashes with police this month during a security crackdown on the Islamists.
Kareem Fahim @kfahim
Huge numbers at Morsi rally in Nasr City pic.twitter.com/qzuw0QVBM2
Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood, the main group organizing protests, has lost been decimated because of sweeping arrests that have netted its top leaders among at least 2,000 Islamists since August 14.
That day, police broke up two pro-Mursi protest camps in Cairo. More than 1,000 people died in clashes during that operation and ensuing violence around the country.
In another Cairo neighborhood Friday, police fired tear gas to disperse several dozen protesters, an AFP correspondent said.
About 35 protesters had assembled in Cairo’s Sphinx square when police fired tear gas to disperse them, an the correspondent said, adding that the police action was unprovoked.
Smaller protests were reported elsewhere in the country, and civilian supporters of the army, which toppled Mursi in a July 3 coup, turned out in some places to scuffle with the marchers.
دمنا مش رخيص @AbdelhamidShady
The people reclaim the revolution. Tens of thousands in the city of Zagazig against the military coup.
In Nasr City, the marches also raised yellow posters showing a black hand with four fingers raised, their symbol for the Rabaa al-Adawiya protest camp dispersed on August 14.
“We are not here for the Muslim Brotherhood or Mursi, but for democracy, and for the sake of our wasted votes,” said one protester, Noha Galal, a housewife.
Mursi, Egypt’s first democratically elected president, served for only a year before the military ousted him in the popularly backed coup.
Police had warned they would crack down on any protests that “violated the law” and would use deadly force if their stations and government buildings were attacked.
Soldiers had closed off main thoroughfares and squares on Friday in anticipation of the marches.
The Brotherhood led Anti-Coup Alliance had called for peaceful rallies and said they would consider proposals to defuse tensions.
“We welcome any calls for calm, but we will continue protesting in a peaceful manner,” Salah Gomaa, an alliance member, told a news conference on Thursday.
In a statement, the Anti-Coup Alliance called for the release of prisoners and demanded a probe into the violence over the past month.
On Thursday, the interior ministry said police arrested Mohammed el-Beltagy, a senior Brotherhood politician, along with Khaled al-Azhari, also an Islamist and a former Mursi cabinet minister.
A former member of parliament, Beltagy became one of the most vocal opponents of the popularly backed military coup.
Police have already arrested the Brotherhood’s supreme guide Mohammed Badie and much of the senior leadership.
Badie and his deputies are standing trial on charges of involvement in the murder of protesters who stormed the Brotherhood’s headquarters on June 30.
Mursi himself is being held at a secret location and faces charges related to his 2011 escape from prison and of inciting the death and torture of protesters.