Interior minister hopes to persuade rival weekend protests to separate

Interior minister hopes to persuade rival weekend protests to separate

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Thu, 29/11/2012 - 17:06

Interior Minister Ahmed Gamal Eddin said there have been attempts to communicate with political forces calling for mass demonstrations on Friday and Saturday, in an effort to prevent more violence after a week of protests.

The minister said he hopes one side will be persuaded to organize its rally somewhere other than Tahrir Square, so that conflicting protests will be kept separate. 

Islamists have called for President Mohamed Morsy's supporters to gather in the square Saturday, while opposition and secular activists plan to continue a week of demonstrations against the president's constitutional declaration in the square Friday.

Several protesters have died during clashes, some from inhaling tear gas in protests against the declaration that gave Morsy sweeping powers last Thursday.

Security forces, according to the ministry, have deployed additional troops near important buildings downtown ahead of Friday's protest.

The minister emphasized that peaceful demonstrations will be respected, but any attempts to storm police or public facilities will be stopped in accordance with the law.

A number of political leaders, revolutionary forces and activist movements described the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafi Nour Party's calls for a Saturday demonstration in support of Morsy’s decisions as “calls for violence,” and an escalation of the tension with secular forces.

Khaled Telima, head of the Progressive Youth Union, the youth wing of the leftist Tagammu Party, said that the Saturday demonstrations are “calls to fight.”

“We will not leave the square,” Telima said. “More martyrs will fall in the road for freedom, and the [Muslim Brotherhood] follows on the path of Hosni Mubarak in killing protesters.”

George Ishaq, a leading member of the Constitution Party, described the Islamist-organized protest as “catastrophic.”

Essam Sharif, coordinator of Free Front for Peaceful Change, anticipated that the Brotherhood would intentionally clash with and violently attack opposition protesters.

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm