Anti-military protests in Egypt draw low turnout | Middle East| News and analysis of events in the Arab world | DW | 23.08.2013
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Middle East

Anti-military protests in Egypt draw low turnout

Islamists in Egypt have held anti-military protests in the wake of a harsh police crackdown. The Muslim Brotherhood had called for mass rallies, but could only manage low turnout on the streets.

The protests in Cairo were dubbed the "Friday of Martyrs" by Islamists who had asked people to take the streets after weekly Muslim prayers.

Several thousand supporters of the Brotherhood, the movement that backs ousted President Mohammed Morsi, demonstrated in the Cairo neighborhood of Muhandesseen, the Maadi suburb and in Giza. The turnout paled in comparison to the hundreds of thousands who protested earlier this month before security forces violently cleared two protest camps in the capital city.

There were no reports of violence in Cairo on Friday, although security officials said one person was killed and 15 Islamists were arrested in clashes in the Nile Delta city of Tanta.

The official MENA news agency also reported protests attended by several hundred in the Mediterranean city Alexandria, Suez to the north, and Qena and Aswan in the south.

Days of bloodshed

About 1,000 people have been killed since police and the military cleared the Cairo protest camps on August 14. The bloodshed drew international condemnation, with the rights group Amnesty International among the latest to weigh in on Friday.

"Security forces failed to take control of the situation or respond to violence used against them in a measured and responsible way to minimize loss of life," said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, the organization's Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa. "Many bystanders also lost their lives.”

In the ensuing the days, Egyptian authorities expanded their crackdown on Brotherhood officials. Supreme guide Mohammed Badie was taken into custody on Tuesday, the first time the head of the movement was arrested in over 30 years.

Morsi himself is being held at an undisclosed location on charges relating to a 2011 prison break and the incitement of death and torture of protesters.

The former President Hosni Mubarak, meanwhile, was let go from prison on Thursday and taken to a military hospital in Cairo. Now 85 years old, Mubarak was toppled during Egypt's 2011 revolution, but his release has sparked concern that the country's military authorities are reinstating the old regime.

US weighs aid

In an interview with the broadcaster CNN that aired Friday, US President Barack Obama said he was weighing whether to continue the over $1 billion (1.3 billion euros) in military aid delivered to Egypt annually.

"You know, my sense is with Egypt is that the aid itself may not reverse what the interim government does," Obama said. "But I think what most Americans would say is that we have to be very careful about being seen as aiding and abetting actions that we think run contrary to our values and our ideals."

"What we're doing right now is doing a full evaluation of the US-Egyptian relationship," he added.

dr/mkg (AFP, Reuters, dpa)