Islamists rally for Egypt's Mursi in Cairo

Fri Feb 15, 2013 2:00pm EST
 

By Asma Alsharif

CAIRO (Reuters) - Thousands of Islamists rallied in Cairo on Friday in support of Mohamed Mursi, the Muslim Brotherhood president who has been the target of protester rage in weeks of violent demonstrations.

Repeating the pattern of recent weeks, Mursi's opponents rallied again on Friday, this time gathering outside El-Quba, one of the presidential palaces in the northern suburbs of Cairo. The activists dubbed it "Checkmate Friday".

The protest, which drew several hundred people by afternoon descended into violence as night fell. State media reported that "troublemakers" had thrown rocks and petrol bombs. Security forces unleashed tear gas and water cannon, it said.

The pro-Mursi rally was called by a hardline Salafi Islamist group, Al-Gama'a al-Islamiya, in what it described as a protest under the banner "Together Against Violence".

The group waged an armed insurrection against the state in the 1990s but its leadership renounced violence more than a decade ago. It has entered mainstream politics since autocratic president Hosni Mubarak was overthrown in 2011.

The Muslim Brotherhood and its Freedom and Justice Party said it backed Friday's rally in a symbolic way but did not mobilize supporters for the event, meaning the numbers were smaller than at previous Islamist protests.

Around 60 people have been killed in Egypt since late January in unrest touched off by the anniversary of the uprising against Mubarak and exacerbated by a court ruling that sentenced 21 people to death over a soccer stadium disaster a year ago.

It has been the worst bloodshed since Mursi assumed office, underlining the instability that continues to thwart government efforts to restore a sense of normalcy and revive an economy in crisis by attracting fresh investment and tourism.   Continued...

 
Protesters shout slogans against Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi and members of the Muslim Brotherhood at Tahrir Square in Cairo February 15, 2013. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh