Tens of thousands of Egyptians have taken to the streets of Cairo, calling for the reinstatement of deposed President Mohammed Morsi. The US and Germany have called on the military to free Morsi from detention.
The ousted president's supporters continued their sit-in at the Rabaa Adawiya mosque in northeastern Cairo, praying and fasting on the first Friday of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood have been camped out at Rabaa Adawiya for three weeks now. Their sit-in began as a demonstration in anticipation of mass anti-Morsi protests on June 30. Those anti-Morsi protests ultimately led to the president's ouster in a July 3 military coup, led by General Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi.
The Muslim Brotherhood has vowed to remain in the streets until Morsi, Egypt's first democratically elected president, is reinstated. Morsi has not been seen since the coup, when he was arrested by the military.
"We are ready to stay for a month, two months, a year, or even two years," the ultraconservative Islamist cleric Safwat Hegazi told protesters from a stage on Friday.
Thousands of people also gathered in Cairo's Tahrir Square to attend a Ramadan celebration, organized by Morsi opponents.
Germany, US call for Morsi's release
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle called on Friday for the Egyptian military to free Morsi from custody.
"It's not only an expression of our commitment to the rule of law, but it's also our political conviction, that any form of political repression will damage Egypt's future," Westerwelle said in a press release. "We demand an end to the restrictions placed upon Mr. Morsi's freedom of movement."
The United States followed suit. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters in Washington that the US supported Germany's call for Morsi to be released.
"We've expressed concerns from the beginning... about his arrest, about the politically motivated arbitrary arrests of the Muslim Brotherhood members," Psaki said.
"We still continue to view these as politically motivated arrests, and still continue to believe that they should be released."
Tensions running high
Tensions have been running high in Egypt since Morsi's ouster. On Monday, Muslim Brotherhood members rallied in front of Republican Guard headquarters in Cairo, where they believed Morsi was being held. The rally ended in violent clashes with security forces, leaving more than 50 people dead, most of them Morsi supporters. At least four members of the security forces were also killed.
The military installed the head of Egypt's Supreme Constitutional Court, Mansour Adly, as interim president. On Tuesday, Adly appointed liberal economist Hazem el-Beblawi as prime minister. El-Beblawi has promised to assemble his Cabinet by next week.
A presidential spokesman said that the Muslim Brotherhood would be offered ministerial posts in the new Cabinet. But so far, the Brotherhood has remained steadfast in its opposition to the military-installed government.
slk/jm (AP, AFP, Reuters)