Military in Egypt vow to protect 'Friday of Rage' protests

Military in Egypt vow to protect 'Friday of Rage' protests

Egypt's army has said it will protect peaceful protests ahead of planned rallies by supporters of ousted president Mohammed Morsi.

The country's military has warned against revenge attacks as police began rounding up senior Islamists ahead of planned rallies by Morsi's supporters today.

A military statement said it supports the right to peaceful protest, but warned that violence and civil disobedience acts such as blocking roads will "harm social peace."

In the most dramatic step, authorities arrested the group’s revered leader from a seaside villa and flew him by helicopter to detention in the capital.

With a top judge newly sworn in as interim president to replace Mr Morsi, the crackdown poses an immediate test to the new army-backed leadership’s promises to guide Egypt to democracy – how to include the 83-year-old fundamentalist group.

Hosni Mubarak and previous authoritarian regimes banned the group and after his fall, the newly-legalised Brotherhood shot to power in elections, with veteran member Mr Morsi becoming the country’s first freely-elected president.

Now the group is reeling under a huge backlash from a public that says the Brotherhood and its Islamist allies abused their electoral mandate. The military forced Mr Morsi out on Wednesday after millions of Egyptians turned out in four days of protests demanding he be removed.

Adly Mansour, head of the Supreme Constititonal Court, with which Mr Morsi had repeated confrontations, was sworn in as interim president.

In his inaugural speech, broadcast nationwide, he said the anti-Morsi protests that began June 30 had “corrected the path of the glorious revolution of January 25”, referring to the 2011 uprising that toppled Mubarak. He also praised the army, police, media and judiciary for standing against the Brotherhood.

Furious over what it calls a military coup against democracy, the Brotherhood said it would not work with the new leadership. It and harder-line Islamist allies called for a wave of protests today, dubbing it the “Friday of Rage” and vowing to escalate if the military did not back down.

There are widespread fears of Islamist violence in retaliation for Mr Morsi’s removal and already some former militant extremists have vowed to fight.

Suspected militants opened fire at four sites in northern Sinai, targeting two military checkpoints, a police station and el-Arish airport, where military aircraft are stationed, security officials said. The military and security responded to the attacks and one soldier was killed and three were injured.

Brotherhood officials urged their followers to keep their protests peaceful. “We declare our complete rejection of the military coup staged against the elected president and the will of the nation,” it said in a statement, read by senior cleric Abdel-Rahman el-Barr to a crowd outside the Rabia al-Adawiya Mosque in Cairo.

“We refuse to participate in any activities with the usurping authorities.”

The Rabia al-Adawiya protesters plan to march to the Ministry of Defence today.

The Brotherhood condemned the crackdown, including the shutdown on Wednesday night of its television channel, Misr25, its newspaper and three pro-Morsi Islamist TV stations. The military, it said, was returning Egypt to the practices of “the dark, repressive, dictatorial and corrupt ages”.

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