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Africa

Egyptian Islamists call for rolling protests against govt

© FRANCE 24/Mehdi Chebil

Video by Luke SHRAGO

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-08-16

Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood called on supporters to keep staging protests indefinitely in the wake of new, deadly clashes Friday that left over 60 people dead across the country. European ministers are planning a coordinated response to the violence.

Egyptian Islamists ousted from power last month vowed on Friday to repeat protests indefinitely, after Cairo became the scene of another deadly crackdown – with security forces and government supporters battling against protesters loyal to ousted president Mohammed Morsi.

The fresh wave of violence came two days after 578 people were killed when police cleared protest camps set up by loyalists of the deposed Islamist leader.

Demonstrators gathered by the thousands in Ramses Square in downtown Cairo on Friday, responding to a call by Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood to take part in a “day of rage”.

Following Friday prayers the protesters came under fire, with many wounded being hurried off into the nearby Al-Fatah Mosque, which was turned into a makeshift clinic and morgue.

Muslim Brotherhood spokeswoman Mona al-Quazzaz told FRANCE 24 by telephone from London that her group would “stand defiant and stand peacefully” against the crimes of the army-ruled government, including today’s assault.

But Egypt's cabinet issued a defiant statement, saying it was confronting a “terrorist plot”.

The official death toll climbed past 60 across the country, with most of the casualties in the capital of Cairo. However, there were also reports of deaths in the cities of Alexandria, Fayoum, Damietta and Ismailia.

While most of those killed were civilian protestors, authorities said 24 policemen had been killed in the past 24 hours.

The Muslim Brotherhood called on supporters to end protests on Friday as the army-imposed curfew began at 7 p.m. local time, but vowed to return to the streets.

"We call on the Egyptian people and national forces to protest daily until the coup ends,” the Brotherhood said in a statement.

EU preparing response

EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton said that responsibility for Egypt's unfolding tragedy weighed heavily on the interim government, as well as the country’s wider political leadership.

She called on European foreign ministers to quickly meet and prepare coordinated measures on the situation. French President François Hollande and British Prime Minister David Cameron later issued a joint statement calling for a “strong European message”.

However, the kingdoms of Saudi Arabia and Jordan issued statements defending the ruling interim government, labeling the protests “terrorism”.

“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, its people and government stood and stand by today with its brothers in Egypt against terrorism,” Saudi King Abdullah said in message read out on Saudi television.

Date created : 2013-08-16

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