Tensions Mount in Egypt as Military and Morsi Supporters Dig In
(CAIRO) -- Even as violence subsided somewhat in Egypt Thursday, the interim government showed no sign of backing off from any attempt by Islamists to usurp its power. Following a day when hundreds were killed and thousands wounded by security forces, the Egyptian Interior Ministry declared that police could use live ammunition on supporters of deposed President Mohamed Morsi if they felt threatened.
In the decree, the ministry said, "All the forces assigned to securing and protecting these establishments were provided with the weapons and the ammunition necessary to deter any attack that may target them." Nevertheless, Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood party appeared willing to defy the state of emergency imposed by interim President Adly Mansour by encouraging its followers to take to the streets of Cairo and other Egyptian cities while stopping short of telling them to fight fire with fire. The Brotherhood declared Friday "A Day of Anger." Wednesday's total and violent dismantling of two Cairo encampments where tens of thousands of people staged sit-ins to protest July 3rd's military coup has enraged Morsi supporters and foreign leaders, including President Obama, who called off planned military exercises with Egypt scheduled for next month.
While Cairo was under heavy security Thursday, there were protest marches in Alexandria and some disturbances reported not far from the pyramids in the city of Niza, where a government building was set on fire. Islamists have also blamed Egypt's Christians for helping to spur Morsi's removal, although they had no role in the coup six weeks ago. Just the same, Ahram Online, Egypt's official newspaper, reported on its website that 30 or more Coptic Christian churches were destroyed during the aftermath of the raids on the Cairo camps.
In other developments, President Mansour's Cabinet appears to be falling apart as a result of the crackdown. On Wednesday, interim Vice President Mohamed ElBaradei resigned, and Deputy Prime Ministers Ziad Bahaa El-Din and Hossam Eissa are also rumored to be heading out the door.
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