Security beefed up around Cairo ahead of fresh pro-Morsi demos

Ahram Online, Friday 6 Dec 2013

Supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi plan to protest against recent harsh sentences for 21 female protesters in Alexandria

Soldiers sit atop army vehicles as they stand by Tahrir square in Cairo October 11, 2013 (Photo: Reuters)

Egyptian security forces have fortified their presence around the capital and in neighbouring Giza ahead of renewed demos by Islamists against the interim authorities.

A grouping supporting ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi has called for a new round of protests on Friday to decry harsh jail sentences handed to female pro-Morsi protesters last week.

Cairo’s Tahrir Square was open to traffic early on Friday, state news agency MENA said, as were Rabaa Al-Adawiya thoroughfare and Nahda Square, sites of major pro-Morsi protests in the capital over the summer.

Maintaining a watchful eye, however, authorities have deployed armoured vehicles, barricades and barbed wire in the vicinity of volatile sites and in other major streets and protest venues.  

Last week an Egyptian court sentenced 14 female protesters to 11 years in jail and placed seven underage girls in juvenile detention for taking part in clashes during a pro-Morsi protest in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria. The women and girls have maintained that they were protesting peacefully.

Protests are also planned in the coastal city on Friday.

The National Alliance to Support Legitimacy, a coalition led by Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood, has continued to call for rallies to denounce the July ouster of Morsi, which it describes as a military coup. But Islamists' ability to drum up street support has noticeably diminished after a sustained crackdown by authorities which has seen thousands arrested.

Egypt's interior ministry had warned it would firmly confront unauthorised protests. A newly-enacted law which many rights groups describe as repressive requires protesters to notify police at least three days in advance of any planned gathering, and gives police the right to proscribe the event.

Security police forces have used water cannons and teargas in recent days to forcibly disperse protests after the law was brought into force. Dozens of secular activists have been arrested over charges of protesting without permission, while around 200 pro-Morsi protesters were arrested last Friday on the same charges.


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