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Sit-ins continue in Cairo despite military threats as Egypt marks end of Ramadan

Egyptian demonstrators have ignored government threats of a crack down on protest camps, refusing to return home. Protesters are calling for the reinstatement of ousted President Mohammed Morsi.

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Crowds of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood supporters celebrated the Eid al-Fitr holiday marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in Cairo on Thursday, refusing to return to their homes as instructed by the government.

So far, there has been no sign of movement on the government’s threat Wednesday to crack down on the protest camps where thousands have been demanding the reinstatement of Morsi. Morsi was ousted by the military on July 3.

Morsi's wife speaks

Morsi’s wife, Naglaa Mahmoud, made a rare public appearance on Thursday to speak to the crowds. She spoke outside the rabaah al-Adawiya mosque in a Cairo suburb, telling Morsi supporters that her husband "Is coming back, God willing."

"We are victorious," she said, promising the protesters they would overcome the current political crisis.

The sit-ins and protests held on behalf of Morsi are filled with demonstrators demanding Morsi’s reinstatement, the restoration of the suspended constitution drafted under Morsi and the return of Morsi's Islamist-dominated legislative council.

Transition is planned

The interim government and the military, however, have said they will continue with their transition plan, which calls for elections by early 2014.

Crowds also filled Tahrir Square to show support for the military and the interim government, with morning prayers and celebrations marking the end of Ramadan.

Critics of the Brotherhood believe Morsi’s supporters are refusing mediation with the government in an effort to spark bloody confrontations with the military. The Brotherhood, in response, says they simply want Morsi restored to power.

Diplomatic efforts

Many hope for a peaceful end to the crisis, which has seen deadly protests in recent weeks. Concern reached fever pitch this week after the collapse of diplomatic efforts to get the two sides talking.

Diplomats and Arab leaders have tried to bring about a peaceful solution for both sides. A recent visit by US Senators John Mccain and Lindsey Graham, however, sparked even more controversy. They referred to Morsi’s ouster as a coup, and called for the release of "political prisoners" when referring to Brotherhood leaders charged with instigating violence.

In turn, the interim government announced that diplomatic efforts had failed and that they would clear the sit-ins. Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi said the decision to crack down on the demonstrators was "final and irreversible." On Thursday, he said the government would take action to protect Egypt’s citizens.

"We are trying to find a balance between the need to bring back security and fight outlaws and the same time give to those who have refused to cooperate so far the opportunity [to do so]," he said.

Thus far, the military has held off on breaking up the protests.

tm/ccp (AP, AFP, Reuters)