Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood holds mass protests
Tens of thousands of supporters of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood massed in main squares in several cities yesterday, waving pictures of ousted president Mohammed Mursi and chanting that the head of the military is a traitor.
Islamists are trying to escalate their campaign of street rallies aimed at forcing the reinstatement of Mursi. At the same time, the new military-backed administration has intensified its crackdown on the leadership of Mursi's Brotherhood, starting criminal investigations against him and issuing arrest warrants for a host of others.
At the main Islamist rally in Cairo, the crowd poured into a large boulevard in front of a main mosque where Mursi supporters have been camped out for two weeks. During the day, the crowd appeared smaller than in previous days, although it was expected to pick up after sunset and the end of the daily fast of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.
"We are ready to stay for a month, two months, a year or even two years," ultraconservative Salafi cleric Safwat Hegazi told protesters in front of the Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque.
Some in the square stayed in tents during the day, sleeping or reading the Koran.
Islamists also held rallies in Alexandria and other cities.
Despite the vows to continue until Mursi is back in the palace, the Brotherhood and other Islamists face the question of how to step up their campaign at a time when the new administration is pushing ahead quickly with its transition plans. At the same time, authorities are pulling out multiple allegations aimed at showing Mursi's supporters are linked to violence and militancy.
Mursi has been held in an undisclosed military facility since the coup against him on July 3, sparked after four days of massive protests by millions nationwide demanding his removal.
Yesterday, the German Foreign Ministry called for Mursi's release and an end to "all restrictive measures concerning Mursi" and for an organisation such as the International Red Cross to be given access to visit the deposed leader.