Tens of thousands of Egyptians took to the streets on Friday, as the army scrambled fighter jets and helicopters in a show of strength over Cairo.
As marches were organised both for and against the deposed President Mohamed Morsi, the most deadly clashes came in the city of Mansoura on the Nile delta, where government officials said a 25-year-old woman and a young girl were killed in the late night violence.
A local rights activist said that a third woman had also been killed, and 13 other people were injured, adding that a mob used dogs, knives and gunfire birdshot against a group of pro-Morsi demonstrators.
The Muslim Brotherhood released a statement confirming that those killed had been on a march in support of the ousted government, and blamed hired thugs for the attack.
Such violence was avoided in Cairo, despite tens of thousands of people gathering on both sides of the increasing ideological and political divide. Up until now the protests during Ramadan had tended to begin following the breaking of the fast and evening prayers, but yesterday saw marches take place throughout the day.
Yesterday was the 10th day of Ramadan, which is traditionally celebrated by Egyptians as the anniversary of a successful military manoeuvre in 1973 to retake the Sinai peninsula from Israel.
As a result, most protesters made a clear distinction between their objections to the military leadership and their admiration for the hard work of the troops themselves.
While the Brotherhood called for people to gather in Cairo for a day’s campaign they dubbed “Breaking the Coup”, anti-Morsi protesters came in their thousands to Tahrir square to celebrate the successful change of government.
The army and police were heavily deployed in efforts to keep the two sides apart, in one instance firing tear gas at a marching Morsi supporters who were approaching an opposing rally.
They largely succeeded, as only minor incidents of violence were reported in the capital. One man was stabbed and had to be taken to hospital when a crowd of the deposed president's supporters questioned his identity and found out he was a policeman in civilian clothing.
Meanwhile, the Brotherhood said seven leaders of its parent group, including the former speaker of the parliament and an ultraconservative Salafi preacher, were transported to a heavily guarded prison, a move the group said was illegal because the men have not yet been charged. They have been accused, among other things, of inciting violence.
The group’s TV channel has been taken off the air along with other Islamic channels seen as sympathetic to the group. Al-Jazeera's Egypt affiliate was raided by security forces, and on Friday, the channel's signal, along with its flagship English and Arabic news channels, were intermittently interrupted. The reasons for the disruptions were not clear.
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