Egypt Central Security Forces (Photo:Reuters)
Security forces have intensified their presence in Cairo and Giza's main squares and streets on Friday, in anticipation of protests in support of ousted president Mohamed Morsi.
Violent clashes flared on Thursday in front of Cairo University, in Giza, as students faced off against security forces. One student was reportedly killed in the clashes from birdshot wounds to the neck, with tens injured. The university is close to Nahda Square, once the site of a pro-Morsi sit-in, which has remained sealed off since its dispersal by security forces on 14 August.
The student-led protests were held to denounce the harsh jail sentences recently given to 21 female pro-Morsi demonstrators in Alexandria. A court sentenced the women to up to 11 years in prison, on charges of destruction of private property, attacking security forces and fomenting violence. The ruling has been widely criticised as being heavy-handed.
The funeral of the student who died in Thursday's clashes, Mohamed Reda, is expected to take place on Friday after noon prayers at central Cairo's Sayeda Nafisa mosque. Activists have sent out calls for a funeral march.
The expected Friday demonstrations come only two days after police arrested dozens of protesters at two non-Islamist demonstrations in central Cairo, stirring widespread criticism.
The protesters had gathered in response to a controversial new protest law passed by the Interior Ministry on Sunday, which requires that protest organisers notify authorities three days in advance of any demonstration. Those who fail to do so will be subject to heavy jail terms and fines. The law also grants security forces a wider range of measures for the dispersal of protests.
The protest law was used to arrest prominent activist Alaa Abdel-Fattah at his home late on Thursday. Accordingly, he stands accused of inciting protests without giving notice or gaining the permission of the interior ministry.
Abdel-Fattah, one of the most well-known rights activists, has opposed ousted presidents Hosni Mubarak and Mohamed Morsi, as well as the period of military rule before Morsi's election. He has also opposed the current interim authority in Egypt.
Last week, the cabinet also issued a decision allowing security forces to enter university campuses without requiring permission from the university heads or the general prosecution, as had been previously mandated.