Egypt is bracing itself for further bloodshed after the Muslim Brotherhood called for Friday to become a “day of rage”, in condemnation of Wednesday’s attacks by security forces on their supporters that left more than 600 people dead.
By Ruth Sherlock, Cairo
Egypt’s new army-installed government has denounced the calls, with the interior ministry authorising police to use live fire if government buildings come “under attack” or in “self defence”.
On Wednesday security forces used teargas, birdshot, and live ammunition to clear protest camps of supporters of Mr Morsi. At least 638 people were killed, in the worst day of civil violence in Egypt’s modern history.
“The struggle to overthrow this illegitimate regime is an obligation, an Islamic, national, moral, and human obligation,” the pro-Morsi Anti Coup Alliance said in a statement on Friday, as it urged its supporters to take to the streets.
“We will not stop until justice and freedom prevail, and until repression is conquered.”
The group named 28 separate starting points for the marches in Cairo and called for “million man protests” elsewhere in the country.
Meanwhile, the Egyptian government responded defiantly to President Obama’s condemnation of the attacks, and his promise to cancel a joint US military exercise.
“Statements not based on facts may encourage violent armed groups,” said a government statement carried on the official MENA news agency.
“The presidency appreciates US concern for developments in Egypt but it wished it could have clarified matters.”
Since Mr Morsi’s ousting on 30th June the new government’s propaganda has denounced the Muslim Brotherhood as “terrorists” and “criminals”.
The response, supporters of the military have said, was a necessary evil to stop violence and terrorism.
Major General Medhat Menshawi, the commander of the Special Operations Forces who led the clearing of the pro-Morsi sit in at Rabaa al-Adiwiyeh mosque, described the protesters as “like rats.”
Navi Pillay, the UN human rights chief, meanwhile called for “an independent, impartial, effective and credible investigation of the conduct of the security forces.”
The recent bloodshed and weeks of protests and counter-protests has left Egypt dangerously polarised.
The Argentine ambassador to the UN, Maria Cristina Perceval, whose country currently presides over the Security Council made an urgent plea for “national reconciliation.”
The Anti-Coup Alliance have called for Friday’s protests to remain peaceful.
However, with tensions running high on both sides, many fear the marches could spark clashes that would quickly plunge the country back into bloodshed.
A governorate building in Cairo was set alight by opposition protestors on Thursday, and local news reports cited violence elsewhere in the country including in Sinai, where seven soldiers and a police officer were killed in attacks.
“How can they keep asking us to protest peacefully? We tried that and look what happened!” said one pro-Morsi supporter as he came to collect the body of his dead friend from a mosque that housed more than 250 corpses.
“I think it’s inevitable that some people will want to take revenge.”
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