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Cairo Metro trouble-free despite Islamist-planned underground protests

Cairo underground saw a relatively normal crowd Sunday morning despite Islamist-led calls for on-board protest to cripple traffic in the capital

Ahram Online, Sunday 15 Sep 2013
Cairo metro, Egypt, 15 September 2012 (Photo: Ahram Arabic news website)

The Cairo underground has been on alert as Islamists plan to start a number of "metro sit-in[s]" Sunday, in protest against what they call "the military coup" that toppled Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.

Security was tightened at major stations, according to Al-Ahram Arabic news website, but trains functioned normally with no signs of protests by midday.

The metro-crippling protest is planned to take place during rush hour in two legs (from 7am to 10am and from 2pm to 5pm) and continue for several days, according to the official news website of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party. Protesters are to buy metro tickets and remain aboard the carriages, occupying them from one end of the line to the other for as many rounds as the three-hour protest allows.

Loyalists of toppled Islamist president Morsi said the move was planned to "paralyse traffic" in the country's major public transport facility. Indeed, over two million commuters rely on the 60-station Cairo Metro line for their daily travel, according to the Cairo Metro official website.

Analysts, however, deemed the move illegal as tickets only allow passengers a single one-way trip. Abdallah Fawzi, head of the state-run Metro Company, warned Saturday that passengers who do not exit the carriage at the end of the line will be fined and forced to step out. 

Islamists have been staging regular protests since mid-August when security forces forcefully dispersed two major pro-Morsi protest camps, leaving hundreds dead. In recent weeks, however, the number of protesters demanding Morsi's reinstatement has sharply diminished amid a large-scale crackdown by security forces targeting Islamists.

Morsi, the country's first democratically-elected president, was ousted by the army on 3 July following mass protests demanding an end to his one-year rule. He has been held incommunicado since. Senior leaders of his Muslim Brotherhood, along with some 2,000 Islamists, have also been rounded up.

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