News Column

Clashes Increase in Egypt

June 28, 2013

Clashes erupted Friday between backers and opponents of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, leaving one person dead and dozens injured, said medical officials, two days before a protest campaign planned by the opposition to push for the Islamist leader's resignation.

One person was killed and 54 wounded in fighting between both sides in the coastal city of Alexandria where protesters attacked the office of the Muslim Brotherhood to which Morsi belongs.

In the Delta province of Aga, clashes between both sides left 32 wounded, according to local health authorities.

Deepening divisions among ruling Islamists and the largely secular opposition have increasingly polarized Egypt, raising fears about wider street violence.

Anti-Morsi protesters also attacked the Brotherhood offices in the Delta provinces of Beheira and Dakhaliya, reported local media.

Mohammed ElBradaei, a leader in the main opposition bloc, the National Salvation Front, condemned Friday's violence.

"I vehemently denounce violence in all its forms against any person whatever his ideology and leaning," ElBaradei posted on Twitter.

Morsi's opponents and backers have engaged in deadly clashes in recent months.

The latest violence comes as thousands of Morsi's loyalists gathered in eastern Cairo, near a big mosque, to defend his "legitimacy."

"It (Egypt) is an Islamic country despite secularists," the demonstrators chanted, referring to Morsi's opponents.

Meanwhile, hundreds of opposition protesters gathered in central Cairo's Tahrir Square, carrying flags and chanting "leave!"

Protesters plan to march to the presidential palace on Sunday to demand Morsi step down and call early presidential elections.

European Union policy chief Catherine Ashton Friday called for the weekend rallies to be peaceful.

"As I stressed during my last visit (to Egypt), the EU calls for greater efforts by all sides to build trust and work towards inclusiveness and reconciliation," she said in a statement.

"The EU stands ready to assist the Egyptian people in their efforts to complete their challenging democratic transition. This should be done in a peaceful way and in the spirit of dialogue and tolerance."

In Washington, State Department acting deputy spokesperson Patrick Ventrell said the US is closely watching the situation: "We want the government to protect the people's right to make their voices heard, and we want people, if they so choose to protest, to do so peacefully."

The opposition accuses Morsi, who is Egypt's first democratically elected president, of failing to fulfill the objectives of the revolution that unseated president Hosny Mubarak more than two years ago.

The opposition also accuses the ruling Brotherhood of focusing on consolidating power and failing to address Egypt's economic and social problems.

Morsi's supporters have vowed that he will complete his four-year term, which ends in 2016.

On Wednesday, Morsi defended his performance in his first year in office. He admitted that mistakes had been made, but offered no concessions for his opponents.

Source: Copyright 2013 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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