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Violent clashes erupt at pro-Morsi rallies across Egypt

Dozens were injured on Friday after defiant supporters of deposed Egyptian leader Mohammed Morsi clashed with police and opponents at rallies across Egypt, amid government threats to crack down on protest camps.


Supporters of Egypt’s ousted president Mohammed Morsi marched in their thousands on the streets of Cairo and across the country on Friday, leading to clashes with opponents and security forces that injured dozens.

The marches during the Muslim holiday of Eid el-Fitr, marking the end of Ramadan, come as Egypt’s government increasingly looks poised to break up sit-in protests by supporters of Morsi when the religious holiday ends.

Despite this threat, a leader in Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood maintained the aggressive rhetoric used by some opposing the military-backed interim government’s plans while addressing protesters Friday, raising the possibility of further bloodshed in the country.

“Kill as much as you like. I won’t move an inch,” Brotherhood leader Mohamed el-Beltagui said. “We will offer a million martyrs.”

The protesters waved signs bearing Morsi’s picture, who was deposed in a July 3 military coup that came after millions marched in the streets against him.

Clashes with security forces

While most of the protests were peaceful, clashes erupted in several locations across the country between Morsi supporters and those opposing Morsi, as well as security forces.

A security official said 28 people, including three policemen, were injured in clashes in Fayoum, south of Cairo.

Dozens more were injured in clashes in several villages throughout the northern Sharqiya province, the website of the state-run daily newspaper Al-Ahram reported.

In the oasis town of Fayyum, south of Cairo, Morsi supporters clashed with police who fired tear gas to disperse them, security officials told AFP. Four people were injured, according to the health ministry.

Morsi loyalists, who have been holding two major sit-ins in the capital have vowed to keep fighting for his reinstatement, saying that his ouster by the military is a violation of democratic principles.

Egypt’s government has said it had plans to break up the demonstrations but held off out of respect for the holy month of Ramadan, which ended on Wednesday night, and to give foreign mediators a chance to end the deadlock peacefully.

Interim leadership vs Morsi backers

With the failure of the mediation, the country is bracing for an increasingly inevitable confrontation between the interim leadership and Morsi’s loyalists.

Morsi himself remains held by the military at an undisclosed location.

The deadlock could lead to a prolonged crisis punctuated by violence as more radical Morsi supporters turn to militancy, analysts say.

"Short of a political agreement, the most likely outcome is a prolonged stalemate, repeated clashes and a transitional process in many ways fundamentally detached from reality,” the International Crisis Group watchdog said.

“Nor should one underestimate the risk that some Islamists, convinced that the democratic process will never make room for them, drift towards violence,” it added.

Violence on the sidelines of demonstrations between Morsi’s supporters and opponents has killed more than 250 people - mostly Morsi’s backer - since the end of June.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

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