Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat—The Muslim Brotherhood’s attempts to organize protests to demand the reinstatement of ousted president Mohamed Mursi on Friday ended quietly as the total number of protesters declined markedly from previous weeks.
The small turnout prompted speculations over a drop in the group’s popularity among Egyptians.
Pro-Mursi protests were met with public condemnation across Egypt, and anti-Brotherhood protesters reportedly attacked Islamists and tore down their placards.
Those overseeing the situation in Egypt attributed the small turnout to the absence of communication among Brotherhood members and protest organizers, as well as the heightened security measures.
Beginning in the early hours of Friday, Egypt’s security forces stepped up their preparations near key locations across the country.
“Security forces tightened security in key institutions and squares, so that what happened last week would not be repeated,” a security source told Asharq Al-Awsat.
“The interior ministry does not object to any protest, providing it is peaceful,” the same source added.
Brotherhood supporters scrambled to find a foothold in Cairo after the Friday prayers, but the security forces closed off the Tahrir and Ramses squares, as well as Rabaa Al-Adawiya, the former Brotherhood stronghold.
Early Friday, the streets and squares of Cairo saw a heavy security presence, with military armored vehicles deployed at several locations in Cairo.
The pro-Brotherhood National Alliance to Support Legitimacy had announced it would launch 28 marches heading from Egypt’s key mosques.
Marches did go through the streets of Cairo, with protesters denouncing defense minister Abdel-Fatteh El-Sisi as a “traitor.” They also chanted: “It is not about the Brotherhood. . . . It’s a war against Islam.”
But despite fewer protesters taking to the streets, Egypt witnessed several acts of violence on Friday. At least one Mursi supporter was reported killed and 25 injured in scuffles between pro- and anti-Mursi demonstrators.
In Al-Sharqia Governorate, violence broke out as Mursi supporters were pelted with stones and empty glass bottles for shouting slogans against Sisi.
In the Suez Governorate, explosives experts detonated a hand grenade, a security source told Asharq Al-Awsat.
The source said that residents managed to recognize the person who placed the grenade in the street. He has not been arrested yet.
In another development, Egypt’s security forces continued their pursuit of Brotherhood figures across Egypt.
There were reports of Mohamed El-Beltagy and Essam El-Arian, two senior Islamist figures, hiding in Upper Egypt, Asharq Al-Awsat has learned.