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Thursday, 22 October 2020

Few Egyptians heed calls for 'Islamic revolution'; minor clashes

Low turnout for Islamic protests on Friday in different parts of the country; two security officers and a civilian killed, more than a dozen injured so far

Osman El Sharnoubi , Friday 28 Nov 2014
Police stand guard as an army vehicle approaches as they prepare for more possible protests in the eastern suburb of Mataryia, Cairo, November 28, 2014 (Photo: Reuters)
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Few Egyptians heeded a call to carry out an uprising to impose Islamic law and preserve Egypt's "Muslim identity" in planned Friday protests, while militant attacks and clashes killed three.

A limited number of protests kicked off in several governorates across the country, but not much larger than the normal weekly protests staged by supporters of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, who have seen their street presence dwindle amid a police crackdown that has killed hundreds and landed thousands in jail.

Friday's protests were called for by the Salafist Front, a small ultraconservative Islamist group, and were backed by the Muslim Brotherhood.

"The media blew worries about the protests out of proportion. The Islamists definitely failed today," political analyst Amr Hisham Rabei told Ahram Online.

The relative calm of the day was broken by militant attacks as two army officers were killed in drive-by shootings by unknown assailants in Qalioubiya governorate, north of Cairo and Gesr El-Suez in Cairo.

Improvised explosives were also thrown at security forces in the Nile Delta's Sharqiya governorate, injuring two policemen and eight civilians.

Small protests in Cairo and Alexandria turned violent as protesters clashed with police.

A man, 42, was shot dead amid clashes between police and protesters in Cairo's eastern Matariya district, a health ministry spokesman, Hossam Abdel-Ghaffar, told Ahram Online. It is unclear whether the man was taking part in the protests or was passing by, Abdel-Ghaffar said.

Matariya has witnessed near-weekly Friday clashes between Brotherhood supporters and police in the months following Morsi's ouster in July 2013. Last month a child was killed in similar clashes in the district.

Two other officers – one from the police, another from the army – were injured during clashes with Islamist supporters in Alexandria.

The clashes in Cairo and Alexandria were the largest reported. More than 20 people have been injured nationwide, Abdel-Ghaffar said.

Friday's limited violence occurred despite heightened security measures taken across Egypt in anticipation of the protests, with security forces deployed in major squares and at key buildings.

Many shops closed their doors across the country on Friday and fewer people than usual roamed the streets in the capital and elsewhere.

There were several small demonstrations in the late afternoon to express support to the government in Mansoura and Mahalla in the Nile Delta, as well as Alexandria and Cairo. 

Earlier on Friday, police said they arrested 107 alleged Brotherhood members for intending to carry out acts of violence, state-run news agency MENA reported.

The figure increased as dozens were rounded up by police during the day.

A police spokesperson said 224 protesters were arrested nationwide.

At least 10 small improvised bombs were defused in four governorates, including Cairo, the police said.

Two sound bombs detonated in highly secured areas of Cairo – in Abdel-Moneim Riad Square, walking distance from Tahrir Square, and near the presidential palace east of Cairo.

Unlike the Brotherhood, several other Islamist groups including the Salafist Nour Party – an ally of the government – and former Brotherhood allies the Wasat Party and Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya movement rejected the demonstrations.

Egypt's Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab on Thursday had declared that Friday would be a "normal day."

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