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Egypt braces for fresh violence on first Friday of Ramadan - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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In this Wednesday, July 10, 2013 photo, supporters of ousted Egypt's President Mohammed Morsi, hold posters of him as they protest during the Islamic month of Ramadan, in Nasr City, Cairo, Egypt.  (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

Supporters of Egypt’s ousted president, Mohamed Mursi, hold posters of him as they protest during the Islamic month of Ramadan in Nasr City in Cairo, Egypt, in this Wednesday, July 10, 2013, photo. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

London, Asharq Al-Awsat—Supporters and opponents of ousted President Mohamed Mursi are set to take to the streets in the Egyptian capital today, the first Friday of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, as tensions continue to soar between the two camps.

More than a week after the ouster of Egypt’s first Islamist president from power, Muslim Brotherhood supporters remain in Rabaa Al-Adawiya square in eastern Cairo to protest against what they view as a “bloody military coup.” The Muslim Brotherhood has called for supporters of the toppled president to take to the streets today to push for his reinstatement, sparking fears of violence.

Supporters of Mursi’s ouster remain in Cairo’s central Tahrir Square, the symbol of the revolution, backing the military’s intervention and the interim presidency and government that were established earlier this week.

Both sides have warned against a repeat of Monday’s violence outside the Republican Guard compound in Cairo, where the deposed Islamist president is reportedly being held. Fifty-three Islamist protesters and four members of the security forces were killed in a confrontation that intensified the extremely polarized political situation in the country. Mursi’s supporters claim that the Egyptian soldiers opened fire on the protest without provocation, dubbing the incident a “massacre,” while the army claimed that “terrorists” attempted to storm the army barracks.

The Muslim Brotherhood’s ability to mobilize mass protests remains in question today, particularly following the arrest of senior leadership figures. In addition to this, Egypt’s state prosecutor has issued an arrest warrant for General Guide Mohamed Badie, who last addressed the Rabaa Al-Adawiya protesters on Monday.

On Thursday, the US urged Egypt’s new leadership to halt the “arbitrary” arrests of Muslim Brotherhood members, warning against political exclusion.

“The only way this is going to work successfully . . . is if all parties are encouraged and allowed to participate, and that’s why we’ve made clear that arbitrary arrests are not anything that we can support,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said.

UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon spoke with Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohammed Kamal on Thursday, expressing deep concern about the arrest warrants issued against Brotherhood leaders and others. The UN secretary-general emphasized the need for Egypt to “fully respect the right to freedom of association, speech and due process,” adding that “there is no place for retribution or for the exclusion of any major party or community.”

Egypt’s interim prime minister, Hazem El-Beblawi, has said that he will start contacting ministerial candidates on Sunday and Monday with a view to having the cabinet sworn in as early as next week.

Beblawi also emphasized that he has not ruled out Muslim Brotherhood members for ministerial posts, so long as they have the right qualifications. Speaking exclusively to Asharq Al-Awsat, Egypt’s interim prime minister said that his hand is extended to all parties who are prepared to serve the nation and that he categorically rejects political exclusion and score-settling.

“All Egyptians are part of this country, and have the right to believe in whatever they see as being in the interests of the country, but without resorting to violence, [political] exclusion or threats. As for the country, it must be open to all political persuasions,” he said.