Politics to fore as Egyptian rivals celebrate Eid

Thu Aug 8, 2013 7:29am EDT
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By Maggie Fick and Shaimaa Fayed

CAIRO (Reuters) - Bitterly divided Egyptians prayed in public and children played as they celebrated the Eid al-Fitr holiday on Thursday.

But the barbed wire and armoured vehicles in the streets of downtown Cairo and the barricades around Islamist protest camps attested to the dangerous political edge to the festivities.

Rival supporters of ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi and the new army-installed government converged on separate sites in the capital of the Arab world's most populous nation against the background of crisis.

Families flocked to dawn prayers at the Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque, focal point of Islamist opposition to the government, then strolled and picnicked around the area.

"This is the best Eid of my life," said Ali Mohamed, 40, a farmer from a village near the Nile Valley town of Minya, south of the capital. "It's victory or death now. We had five elections and that traitor Sisi has reversed all that."

He was referring to army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who led the overthrow of the Islamist Mursi on July 3 after huge demonstrations against his rule.

Egypt has been dangerously polarised since then with Mursi's Muslim Brotherhood and its loyalists demanding his reinstatement and the government and its supporters saying they are finished.

Tension has prevailed at the Brotherhood protest camps after the security forces threatened to dismantle them. Protesters have erected sandbag-and-brick barricades and armed themselves with sticks to confront any attack.   Continued...

Members of the Muslim Brotherhood and supporters of deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi pray along a street near the sit-in area of Rab'a al- Adawiya Square, where they are camping, on the first day of the Eid al-Fitr holiday after the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, in Cairo August 8, 2013. REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih