Three Killed in Rival Protests Marking Anniversary of 1973 War

July 19, 2013 . By
Supporters of Egypt's ousted President Mohammed (Photo: AP)
Supporters of Egypt’s ousted President Mohammed Morsi (Photo: AP)

Rival rallies of pro- and anti-Morsi demonstrators occurred in Cairo and elsewhere, timed to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the beginning of the 1973 Arab-Israeli War. Pro-Morsi organizers deemed their rallies as “Breaking the Coup,” while anti-Morsi groups referred to demonstrating in opposition to acts of pro-Morsi terrorism. In anticipation of the protests, the armed forces announced that they would act quickly to prevent any outbreaks of violence. Al-Ahram also indicates that military specifically “urged protestors to eschew vandalism against military facilities.”

Large numbers of protestors turned out on both sides, with pro-Morsi supporters most notably blocking off Cairo’s 6 October Bridge and occupying the Abbasiya Hospital for Mental Illnesses. Pro-Morsi demonstrators also protested against perceived media bias by gathering outside Cairo’s Media Production City (MPC), where most private Egyptian broadcasters are located. The MPC was also the site of earlier protests in March against the private media in Egypt. Ultimately, three demonstrators were killed and eight injured in clashes in the Nile Delta city of Mansoura.

Defense Minister Abdel Fattah el-Sisi released a statement denouncing rumors of a planned bid for the Presidency as “utterly false.” Speculation had been triggered by an interview with military spokesman Ahmed Ali, who stated, “Assuming that [El-Sisi] retired and people suggested he [run] for the Presidency, is this not the democratic process?” El-Sisi statement noted that he is “not looking for more than [leading the great establishment of the Army.]”

In an interview with Turkey’s TRT Arabic channel, Bassem Ouda, a former Minister of Supply under Morsi, accused interim Prime Minister El-Beblawi of “[excluding] the entire Islamic current that represents 70 percent of the Egyptian people.” Ouda also urged Defence Minister El-Sisi to reinstate the suspended 2012 constitution and attributed the increasing number of attacks in the Sinai to local tribes that support Morsi’s cause.

The Salafist Al-Nour Party released a statement criticizing the Muslim Brotherhood’s demand for Morsi to be reinstated as “impossible,” noting the “sharp opposition [that Morsi] faces from the military, the police, the intelligence, the judiciary and a broad sector of the people.” In the statement, the Party also cautioned that the ongoing pro-Morsi protests are constantly at risk of turning violent and “completely [rejected]” the possibility of “armed confrontation.” The statement further noted that the al-Nour chose participation rather than opposition in order to prevent the total disappearance of Islamist voices from influence in governance.

Citing concerns about the use of military and police equipment against protesters, the United Kingdom announced that it would suspend 49 export licenses covering such security products. The suspended licenses covered items as varied as “[spare parts] for helicopters and aircraft, specialist software, and communications equipment.” The UK’s Minister for Business, Innovation, and Skills Vince Cable noted that the UK’s goal, acting in concert with their EU partners, was to “suspend all export licenses for goods which might be used for internal repression.”

Futher attacks in the Sinai occurred as unknown assailants opened fire on a security checkpoint in Arish, injuring one. Attackers also killed two civilians and wounded one when militants fired a rocket at a house in Arish, missing the presumed target, a military checkpoint.