Islamists call Cairo protest march as Egypt death toll mounts

Islamist group calls for rally day after security forces killed hundreds of Morsi supporters and cleared sit-ins. Reuters
Egypt\’s Muslim Brotherhood is calling on its supporters to march in Cairo Thursday, a day after a crackdown by security forces led to at least 525 deaths.
The Brotherhood says the planned march is in protest of those killed Wednesday when security forces stormed two protest camps in Cairo.
"Marches are planned this afternoon from Al-Iman mosque to protest the deaths," a coalition of Morsi\’s supporters said in a statement on Thursday, referring to a mosque in Cairo\’s Nasr City neighbourhood.
That violence set off clashes in other areas of Egypt, including in Alexandria and Suez. The health ministry said Thursday the fighting killed at least 525 people and wounded more than 3,700. The Muslim Brotherhood said more than 4,500 had been killed.

Streets in Cairo were calm early Thursday, following a new overnight curfew authorities imposed as part of a monthlong state of emergency.

Authorities had warned for days they would move against the protest camps, where demonstrators led by the Muslim Brotherhood rallied against Egypt\’s military and its ouster of elected president Mohamed Morsi.
The interior minister in the military-backed interim government, Mohamed Ibrahim, defended the actions of security forces, saying they used minimum force against the camps and only fired tear gas. He blamed the Brotherhood for creating what he called a state of mayhem across the country by shooting at police, attacking government buildings and burning churches. Witnesses, however, reported security forces firing live ammunition.
Ibrahim says the interim government is heeding the call of the people to bring stability back to Egypt.
Pro-reform leader Mohamed ElBaradei resigned his post as interim vice president following Wednesday\’s violence. He said he is not prepared to be held responsible for even "a single drop of blood."
Egypt\’s railway authority has suspended train service in and out of Cairo to keep activists from regrouping elsewhere.
World leaders, including the US, EU and the UN, have condemned the bloody security crackdown on anti-military protesters in the Egyptian capital, Cairo.
Security forces stormed two camps which supporters of ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi set up in the capital Cairo early last month.
A state of emergency was declared and curfews imposed in Egyptian cities.
US Secretary of State John Kerry said the escalating violence had dealt a "serious blow\’\’ to political reconciliation efforts between the military-backed interim government and Morsi\’s supporters.
"This is a pivotal moment for all Egyptians,\’\’ Kerry said. "The path toward violence leads only to greater instability, economic disaster and suffering.\’\’
European powers urged the military-backed interim government and its Islamist opponents to avoid an escalation of violence and return to a political dialogue. 
The bloc\’s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, "strongly condemned\’\’ the violence and called for Egypt\’s security forces to "exercise utmost restraint\’\’.
"Only a concerted effort by all Egyptians and the international community might lead the country back on a path to inclusive democracy, and overcome Egypt\’s challenges,\’\’ she said.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan described Wednesday\’s crackdown by Egyptian security forces on pro-Morsi protest camps in Cairo as a "massacre." He urged the U.N. Security Council and the Arab League to act immediately to stop it. 
Turkish President Abdullah Gul accused the Egyptian government of staging an armed intervention against civilians and called that "unacceptable." Egyptian authorities said some of the protesters were armed and fired at security forces. 
Ankara was one of the strongest international critics of the Egyptian military\’s decision to oust Morsi on July 3, one year after he took office as Egypt\’s first democratically elected leader. 
The military said it acted in response to what it called the will of the people after mass protests by secular Egyptians who accused  Morsi of being anti-democratic. 
A spokesman for U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the U.N. chief condemns the violence in Egypt in the strongest terms, and regrets that Egyptian authorities chose to use force against the mostly Islamist demonstrations. 
However, the spokesman also said the U.N. chief also is "well aware that the vast majority of the Egyptian people [are] weary of disruptions to normal life caused by demonstrations and counter-demonstrations, and want their country to go forward peacefully in an Egyptian-led process."
Iran joined Turkey in condemning the Egyptian crackdown as a "massacre." The Fars news agency quoted the Iranian foreign ministry as warning Egypt that if it does not change course, Israel and "arrogant" world powers will derail the Egyptian people\’s revolution. 
Iran\’s Islamist leadership began reaching out to regional rival Egypt after a 2011 popular uprising deposed Egypt\’s longtime secular ruler, President Hosni Mubarak, and paved the way for Morsi\’s election a year later. 
Qatar, a supporter of  Morsi\’s Muslim Brotherhood movement, denounced Egypt for using force against what it said were "peaceful protesters." In a statement, the Qatari foreign ministry called on Egyptian authorities to "preserve the lives" of the demonstrators. 
The Hamas-run government in Gaza condemned the "use of force and bloodshed\’\’ in Egypt. In a short statement, Hamas said authorities should use "peaceful political solutions\’\’ in dealing with the crisis.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague took a tougher line against the Egyptian government, saying he condemns its use of force in clearing the protests. He said leaders on all sides "must work to reduce the risk of further violence."
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said the government was "extremely worried\’\’ about the "very dangerous\’\’ escalation of violence, indirectly criticising the leadership for its crackdown on the Muslim
Chancellor Angela Merkel\’s spokesperson, Steffen Seibert, said the "decisive principle\’\’ must be "that the human rights of all Egyptians, independent of their political direction and conviction, have to be respected and protected.\’\’
France demanded an "immediate end to the repression," condemning the "the bloody violence" in unusually strong language. 
Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said an "urgent international position\’\’ reflecting this must be reached, and called on Ban and Paris\’ main partners to contribute.
"The current situation will not be resolved by force,\’\’ a statement from Fabius said. He called on all sides to "without delay open a dialogue that includes all Egyptian political forces to find a democratic end to this grave crisis\’\’. 
The minister said France was immediately available to help bring sides together.
Italian Foreign Minister Emma Bonino appealed to all sides in Egypt to do what they can to immediately stop the explosion of violence and "avoid a bloodbath".
She added that it was essential that security forces "exercise maximum self-control; likewise, everyone must avoid every incitement to violence\’\’.
Hundreds of people demonstrated against Egypt clearing the sit-in protests, chanting slogans against military leader General Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who led the coup against Morsi\’s government. 
One cleric urged Kuwaiti citizens to demonstrate on Friday outside of the US Embassy over the violence in Egypt. 
Kuwait\’s government previously pledged an aid package worth $4bn to Egypt following the ouster of Morsi.
Jordan\’s Muslim Brotherhood has urged its Egyptian peers to continue protests, saying their victory will help the group rise to power elsewhere in the Arab world.
The Brotherhood\’s political arm, the Islamic Action Front, also warned Egypt\’s military rulers they have fallen into a "conspiracy\’\’ hatched by the US and Israel to weaken Muslims.
Brotherhood protesters staged a protest outside the Egyptian Embassy in Amman and rebuked Egypt\’s military rulers as a "tool for corrupt and tyrant military regimes".
Rachid Ghannouchi, president of Tunisia\’s governing moderate Islamist party Ennahda, called the crackdown an "abject crime\’\’. 
He expressed solidarity with the pro-Morsi backers\’ bid to "recover their freedom and oppose the coup d\’etat\’\’.
The ouster in 2011 of Tunisia\’s leader, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, triggered the Arab Spring, which spread to Egypt.
The demonstrators had been demanding the reinstatement of Morsi, who was removed by the military on 3 July.
The Muslim Brotherhood, which backed the sit-ins in Nahda Square and near the Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque, says the true number of people killed on Wednesday is more than 2,000.
According to the military-backed interim government, 235 civilians were killed nationwide, as well as 43 police officers. The figures cannot be independently verified.
The measure imposes a curfew in Cairo and several other provinces between 19:00 local time (17:00 GMT) and 06:00.
Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim said the police had "dealt professionally" with the protesters, and accused the pro-Morsi protesters of firing birdshot at police.
The protest sites had been infiltrated by armed gangs, he said, and ammunition had been seized from them.
Across the country, members of the Muslim Brotherhood had been arrested and were being interrogated, Ibrahim added.
Source: Agencies
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