Archive for June 20, 2013

June 20, 2013

BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraqis in two Sunni-dominated provinces where provincial elections had been delayed over security concerns were casting ballots Thursday amid tight security measures aimed at thwarting insurgent attacks.

Iraq has been the scene of a dramatic rise in sectarian tensions and deteriorating security. The two provinces — Anbar and Ninevah — have seen some of the largest rallies in a months-long wave of Sunni protests against the Shiite-led government.

A vehicle ban was implemented in Mosul, Ramadi and other major cities in the two provinces as voting got underway for candidates who will serve on provincial-level councils. Thousands of policemen and soldiers were deployed to secure the vote.

Iraqis voted in 12 of Iraq’s 18 provinces two months ago. Officials had delayed elections in Anbar and Ninevah because of what they said were security concerns, though some Iraqis questioned that rationale and dismissed it as a political ploy related to the unrest in the provinces.

Some 2.8 million Iraqis are eligible to vote in more than 1,200 polling centers the two provinces. That figure includes nearly 100,000 members of the security forces, many of whom voted in special elections on Monday so they could be on hand to secure the balloting.

Hundreds of candidates from 28 political blocs in Ninevah and 16 in Anbar are hoping to secure seats. There are 39 seats up for grabs in Ninevah and 30 in Anbar. Among the groups hoping for a strong showing are Sunni parliament speaker Osama al-Nujaifi’s United bloc, Deputy Prime Minister Saleh Al-Mutlaq’s Arab Iraqiya coalition and the secular but Sunni-dominated Iraqiya bloc headed by Shiite politician Ayad Allawi.

The provincial councils have some say over regional security matters and have the ability to negotiate local business deals and allocate government funds. But provincial council members frequently complain that they are hamstrung by restrictions from federal authorities over how to spend the money.

The councils also choose provincial governors and have the right under Iraq’s constitution to call for a referendum to organize into a federal region — a move that could give them considerable autonomy from the central government in Baghdad.

Some protesters and political leaders in Sunni areas, including Anbar and Ninevah, have been agitating for the creation of an autonomous Sunni region, though it is unclear if they could generate broad support for such a move.

The April vote was Iraq’s first election since the U.S. military withdrawal, and was carried out without major bloodshed on voting day. But insurgents have tried to undermine the electoral process by killing candidates.

A total of 17 candidates have been assassinated ahead of this year’s election, with the bulk of them from Ninevah, according to Jose Maria Aranaz, the chief electoral adviser at the United Nations mission to Iraq.

No major violence was reported Thursday morning. But police and hospital officials said seven people were killed and 24 were wounded when two bombs exploded simultaneously on a soccer field the previous night while teenagers and young adults were playing. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to release information.

Iraq’s largely autonomous northern Kurdish region, which comprises three provinces, will hold its own local elections in September. No vote is scheduled in the ethnically disputed province of Kirkuk, which has not had a chance to elect local officials since 2005 because residents cannot agree on a power-sharing formula there.

Results from Thursday’s vote are not expected for several days.

Associated Press writer Sinan Salaheddin contributed reporting.

BEIJING | Wed Jun 19, 2013

(Reuters) – Courts in China’s far western region of Xinjiang have sentenced 19 ethnic Uighurs to up to six years in jail for promoting racial hatred and religious extremism online, in the latest crackdown on what China sees as violent separatists.

All but one of those jailed were from the heavily Uighur southern part of Xinjiang, including eight from the old Silk Road city of Kashgar, the official Legal Daily reported on its website.

Many Uighurs, a Turkic-speaking Muslim people who call energy-rich Xinjiang home, chafe at Chinese government restrictions on their culture, language and religion. China says it grants them wide-ranging freedoms.

In one of the cases, the suspect went on illegal websites to download material which “whipped up religious fervor and preached ‘holy war'” and “whipped up ethnic enmity”, the Legal Daily said in its report late on Wednesday.

“This created a despicable effect on society,” the newspaper said, citing the court ruling.

Another suspect was jailed for spreading materials from overseas via the Internet which “advocate religious extremism and terrorism”, the newspaper added.

While the report did not specify the ethnicity of those jailed, their names and the location of the courts where they were sentenced indicated they were all Uighurs.

China accuses armed Uighur groups of having links to Central Asian and Pakistani Islamist militants, and of carrying out attacks to establish an independent state called East Turkistan.

Many rights groups say China overplays the threat posed to justify its tough controls in Xinjiang.

The region, which lies strategically on the borders of Central Asia, India and Pakistan, sees frequent outbreaks of ethnic violence.

In April, 21 people were killed in clashes near Kashgar, the deadliest unrest since July 2009, when nearly 200 people were killed in riots in the Xinjiang capital of Urumqi.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Robert Birsel)

Source: Reuters.


By Oliver Holmes and Alexander Dziadosz
RAQQA, Syria | Thu Jun 20, 2013
(Reuters) – The Syrian boys looked edgy and awkward. Three months ago their town, the eastern desert city of Raqqa, had fallen to rebel fighters trying to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad’s government. Now the four boys – clad in tight jeans and bright T-shirts – were whitewashing a wall to prepare it for revolutionary graffiti.
“We’ll make this painting about the role of children in the revolution,” one of the boys told two journalists.
A white Mitsubishi pulled up and a man in camouflage trousers and a black balaclava jumped out and demanded that the journalists identify themselves. He was from the Islamic State of Iraq, he said, the Iraqi wing of al Qaeda linked to an Islamist group fighting in Syria called Jabhat al-Nusra.
The boys kept quiet until the man pulled away, and then started talking about how life has changed in the city of around 250,000 people since the Islamists planted their flag at the former governor’s nearby offices.
“They want an Islamic state, but most of us want a civilian state,” the boy said. “We’re afraid they’re going to try to rule by force.”
As he finished his sentence, the same white car roared back round the corner. This time two men, both in balaclavas and holding Kalashnikov assault rifles, stepped out.
“Painting is forbidden here,” one fighter said. The graffiti was too close to the group’s headquarters. One of the boys made a brief, almost inaudible protest.
“We’re sorry,” the fighter said. “But painting is forbidden.” His comrade stroked his long beard and said: “We are not terrorists. Don’t be afraid of us. Bashar is the terrorist.
The encounter captures an important shift underway in rebel-held Syria. Using a mix of intimidation and organization, alliances of Islamist brigades are filling the vacuum in areas where Assad’s army has withdrawn and more secular rebels have failed to provide order, a 10-day visit to rebel-held Syria by Reuters journalists showed.
The Islamist groups include al Qaeda affiliates and more moderate partners, so the nature of their rule is complex. They administer utilities, run bakeries and, in a town near Raqqa, operate a hydroelectric dam. They are also setting up courts and imposing punishments on those judged transgressors.
The United States and other Western powers support the Syrian National Coalition, a group of opposition figures based in Cairo. But the coalition has very little influence on the ground in Syria, so locals are increasingly turning to the Islamists as their best alternative to chaos.
Islamist groups such as Jabhat al-Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham aim to create an Islamic mini-state in rebel-held territory, and Jabhat al-Nusra ultimately envisions a wider Islamic caliphate.
U.S. and European security officials say Jabhat al-Nusra is being financed by wealthy families from Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Syrian Islamist rebels say foreign fighters bring in money and that Syrian expats and Gulf-based individuals who want to overthrow Assad are helping them. Members of Ahrar al-Sham, which has fewer foreign fighters than Jabhat al-Nusra, told Reuters that they make money through business ventures and by taking over banks.
So far the Islamists have won sympathy from many residents in Raqqa – including those who oppose their vision of a narrow moral code and an Islamic caliphate – with their apparent restraint.
Billboards put up by Jabhat al-Nusra show a figure in full veil and tell women “you are like a pearl in your chastity.” Yet unveiled women can still walk openly on Raqqa’s streets and one resident said he had no problem getting whiskey, as long as he drank it in private.
One evening in June, residents held an exhibit of homemade crafts to raise money for poor families. Men and women mingled as music played over a stereo system.
Reema Ajaji, a veiled women who helped organize the event, said the media had unfairly maligned Jabhat al-Nusra. “They’re called terrorists, and we don’t accept this,” she said. “They’re our sons. Us and them, we’re one thing. They defend us, and we defend them.”
She waved around the room, indicating the women in brightly colored headscarves and dresses, some unveiled. “We dress as we want. Do you see these girls?” she said. “Everyone is free to choose.” If Jabhat al-Nusra had wanted to impose their law on people, they would have shut down the exhibition, Ajaji said.
Other residents pointed to the university, which shut for about a month after rebels took the city but is now operating more or less normally. Inside the gated campus, young men and women chatted in the hallways and shared meals in the packed cafeteria. Armed groups are not allowed to enter.
Ahmed Jaber, a 22-year-old chemistry student and member of the student union, said some 80 percent of students were attending classes and exams were going ahead. Life in Raqqa had improved over the past few months, he said, although there were disputes between Islamist brigades and more secular units.
“It’s in everyone’s interests to resolve these differences,” Jaber said. After the rebels took Raqqa, some residents held protests to demand a civilian state. Others, siding with Jabhat al-Nusra, called for an Islamic government. But since then, they have agreed to hold protests calling only for Assad’s downfall.
“After the hell of the regime, we consider this an excellent situation,” Jaber said. “Yes, there’s a security vacuum, there’s chaos, and sometimes there are disputes. But it’s much better than before.”
Selwa al-Janabe, a veiled 27-year-old student, said the Islamists’ ideology was beside the point – at least for now.
“I’m worried about something bigger than hijab or niqab,” she said, referring to the Islamic headscarf and the fuller veil, which covers the face. The important thing now, Janabe said, was “liberation and freedom. Real freedom.”
Mohammed Shaib, a 26-year-old member of a secular activist group, said he was skeptical of the Islamists but saw no alternative for now. “Right now we’re working under the principle that the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” he said.
Ask anyone in Raqqa who runs the town, and they’ll usually tell you it’s Ahrar al-Sham, an umbrella group of conservative Islamist factions which has taken the most active interest among fighting groups in the problems of civilian administration.
The group, which works closely with Jabhat al-Nusra, has taken to calling itself a “haraka,” or “movement,” rather than a “liwa,” or “brigade.” The point, members say, is to make clear the struggle for Syria is not just about waging war.
“From the very beginning we wanted to create justice and security, things like distributing bread. This was a founding idea,” said Abu Muhammed al-Husseini, the 30-year-old head of Ahrar al-Sham’s political office in Raqqa.
The group helps provide electricity and water and its fighters secure grain silos, while others ensure that supply chains, from wheat fields to bakeries, function smoothly.
Much of the town still works as it did before the area was taken by rebels, Husseini said. “There are some groups that only care about fighting, we have other goals,” he said. They include making sure services are provided “side by side with the armed campaign against Bashar.”
He said Ahrar al-Sham had no major disagreements with Jabhat al-Nusra, who differed with them more on “operational details.” He declined to discuss what the future government of Syria might look like, but said Islam “has a vision for building a society.”
Of all the public services the rebels have set up, the Sharia Authorities, which function as a rudimentary justice system, are the most central. They help provide essential services and are the closest thing rebel-held areas have to a government.
The authorities are generally staffed by older men from the area. Community leaders hold discussions and appoint members from their own ranks, some members said. Each of the area’s largest fighting brigades sends representatives, who often work as civilians at the body. Islamist brigades tend to be represented much more heavily than secular groups, both because of their relative size and prowess and because they were among the first to get involved in setting them up.
For many Westerners, the term “sharia” can carry connotations of oppressed minorities, curtailed women’s rights, and punishments like stoning, lashing and beheading. But for Syrians in the conservative Sunni regions that rebels control, the perception is very different.
In part, rebel-run courts have been successful because much of what they deal with is mundane. They handle financial disputes, provide forms of property registration and, in some cases, licenses for exporting and importing goods to and from rebel-controlled territory.
Even with serious crimes, most courts are not imposing harsh punishments because of a provision in Islamic law that such penalties can be suspended or lightened during wartime. Almost all cases are resolved by the payment of a fine to the victim or by a light jail sentence.
A Sharia Authority member in Raqqa who called himself Abu Omar stressed that the body did its best to be fair; it was not strictly Islamist and it worked regularly with non-Islamic groups. He flipped through a file of resumes of applicants for the emerging police force, noting they were nearly all university graduates, and said a Christian headed its wheat bureau. “We benefit from debate with all groups,” he said.
Nevertheless, the influence of Islamists on the courts is unmistakable.
In Salqin, a town in the northwestern Idlib province, Samer Raji is deputy head of the police. He said the main local rebel brigades, apart from Jabhat al-Nusra, sent officers to staff the police force of 30 men; but he added that the police sometimes called on the Islamist group as a “last resort” to enforce their rulings.
“One call from the emir of Jabhat al-Nusra to the commander of a brigade with a wanted man and he’ll show up at court.” He pointed to an unresolved case of a van being stolen, saying that Jabhat al-Nusra could be called on to get it back.
Members of the rebel-run authorities say the brigades are accountable to them, but fighters have sometimes taken the law into their own hands and their punishments can be severe.
In Aleppo on June 10, Islamic State of Iraq fighters executed a 15-year-old boy in front of his parents for making a comment they regarded as heretical, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an anti-Assad monitoring group. The Observatory quoted witnesses as saying gunmen whipped the boy, Mohammad Qataa, then brought him to a wooden stand and shot him in the face and neck.
“Whoever curses even once will be punished like this,” witnesses quoted an Islamic State of Iraq member as saying, according to the Observatory report.
The Islamist influence is notably strong in rebel-held areas of Aleppo. Jabhat al-Nusra has set up in the old children’s hospital there, hanging a black flag bearing the Islamic declaration of faith in white calligraphy: “There is no god but God and Mohammad is His prophet.”
The local Sharia Authority, which Aleppans simply call “the Authority,” is housed in the old national hospital next door. One sign outside warns that unveiled women will not be allowed to enter.
Inside, men and women shuffled through dark, cramped corridors, clutching papers. Abu Baraa, a 22-year-old fighter from Ahrar al-Sham who now works to register the names of prison inmates, told Reuters the court “doesn’t have limits,” and could arrest anyone who does something wrong. Such decisions are up to an executive body composed of members from each of the area’s four main brigades, including Jabhat al-Nusra.
Abu Baraa said the authority worked to the tenets of ultraconservative Islam and, while it had so far refrained from most harsh punishments, he hoped it would become stricter after the war. In some cases, people had been sentenced to lashings, he said, and three men were imprisoned for a couple days after they were caught drinking.
Asked about rape cases, he said he could only think of one, which was unresolved. The man was denying it, and so the court was investigating, asking about the woman’s reputation.
“If she is a good person, the girl, she wouldn’t accept to get laid with someone strange,” he said in English.
What goes on in this building, and the ambitions of people such as Abu Baraa running this nascent government, show what the future in rebel-controlled regions in Syria might look like.
Aleppo’s authority had started with around a dozen people who “wanted to do justice,” Abu Baraa said. Now it has about a dozen branches in the city and several more across Aleppo province. Eventually, Abu Baraa said, he hopes it will become the state.
“There has to be someone in charge,” he said. “We all were from Ahrar al-Sham. And then the other brigades joined us, and we were bigger and bigger. That’s how things work. You start small and get bigger and bigger.”
(Additional reporting by Mark Hosenball in Washington; Editing by Richard Woods and Simon Robinson)
Source: Reuters.

June 19, 2013

ISTANBUL (AP) — The Under-20 World Cup kicks off Friday in Turkey with FIFA promising the tournament will go off without a hitch despite sometimes violent, anti-government protests that have gripped Istanbul and other Turkish cities in recent weeks.

Jim Boyce, chairman of the tournament organizing committee, acknowledged that security has been beefed up for the June 21-July 13 tournament. The Northern Irishman said FIFA security experts were comfortable with arrangements for the 24 teams and spectators in the seven host cities and he predicted there would not be any problems with security.

“The FIFA security people are very happy with the security situation that exists at present in Turkey,” Boyce said. “FIFA is determined that this tournament will go ahead and certainly I sincerely hope the security situation will not be a problem and I can honestly say I don’t think it will be.”

Anti-government demonstrations erupted across Turkey after riot police brutally cracked down on environmental activists who opposed plans to remove trees and develop Gezi Park, which lies next to Istanbul’s famed Taksim Square, on May 31.

The protesters have expressed discontent with what they say is the gradual erosion of freedoms and secular values during Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s 10 years in office. In the past few days, the protests have given way to peaceful resistance although police dispersed pockets of protesters in Ankara and Istanbul on Tuesday night and early Wednesday.

Hundreds of protesters stood still for hours on squares on main streets in several cities, mimicking a lone protester who started the trend on Istanbul’s Taksim Square on Monday and has been dubbed the “Standing Man.”

A government official, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with government rules that bar civil servants from speaking to journalists without prior authorization, said security for the U-20 World Cup as well as the Mediterranean Games, which open in Mersin on Wednesday, had been stepped up well before the nationwide anti-government protests erupted.

Last month, twin car bomb explosions at the town of Reyhanli near the border with Syria killed 53 people and authorities were concerned that the games in Mersin, some 300 kilometers west of Reyhanli, may also be targeted, the official said.

The number of police deployed in Mersin and cities hosting the Under-20 matches have been increased, as have the number of security cameras, the official said. He added that none of the Under-20 venues were believed to be at risk of being targeted by anti-government protests.

The United States team, which arrived Sunday and is based in Istanbul, said they had seen no sign of trouble. “In terms of security, we feel secure and we feel we are in a good place and Turkey is a great place to be right now,” coach Tab Ramos told The Associated Press. “There is no reason for us to think any differently. We actually drove 45 minutes across town to get to practice and drove through the whole city. There were no signs other than normal life around here.”

U.S. captain Caleb Stanko added that there was nothing to worry about. “We feel really safe. There is nothing really scary going on,” Stanko said. “At least we don’t see any of it. I think my parents are worried. They are not here and they don’t actually see what is going on.”

Organizers have also turned their attention to ensuring the stadiums are filled once the tournament starts Friday with the U.S. taking on Spain and France facing Ghana in Group A. Cuba plays South Korea and Nigeria takes on Portugal in Group B.

They said 300,000 of the 1.3 million available tickets have been sold for the tournament. “It’s very important the Turkish football public come out and give great support to this tournament,” said Boyce, noting this is the next biggest FIFA competition after the World Cup.

“I know Turkey for example is very keen on hopefully hosting the likes of the European finals,” he said. “Obviously an event like this will put Turkish football on the map and hopefully will help them in their bid in the future to host bigger tournaments such as a World Cup.”

Local organizers said they were confident more tickets would be sold as the matches drew closer, predicting the total sold would double to 600,000. Predicting a winner is particularly difficult at this edition of the tournament in large part because Brazil and Argentina, which have won eight of the past 10 competitions, failed to qualify.

The emerging favorite appears to be Spain, which is looking to add a second Under-20 World Cup to its increasingly crowded trophy cabinet. Having won the Under-19 European championship, it boasts a side that plays the quick-touch “tiki taka” style known for its quick passing and possession.

Midfielder Oliver commands the attack while wide men Gerard Deulofeu and Jese — who finished the European Championship as top scorer — are the main scoring threats. The Americans come into their opening match against Spain as underdogs but insist they are relishing the opportunity to face one of the tournament’s best teams.

“Spain is probably the favorite to win the whole thing and the fact we can start with Spain is a great opportunity for us and for our players to perform and see where we stand,” Ramos said. The competition is organized into six groups of four teams each, with the top two advancing along with the four best third-place teams. The knockout stage of the competition begins July 2.

Group A is seen as the toughest since it features Spain, the U.S., France and Ghana, all of which are considered capable of advancing deep into the tournament. Nigeria and Asian champions South Korea are favored to move out of Group B, which also includes Cuba and Portugal.

South American champion Colombia is the closest thing to a sure bet in Group C though home favorite Turkey is also a potential threat in a group also featuring El Salvador and Australia. Group D is also tight with Concacaf champion Mexico, which beat the United States in qualifying, appearing the class of a group that also includes Paraguay, Mali and Greece.

Group E is a toss-up with four seemingly evenly matched teams — England, Iraq, Chile and African champion Egypt — all with a strong case to advance. Finally, Uruguay and Croatia are tipped to advance out of Group F, ahead of New Zealand and Uzbekistan.

Associated Press writer Suzan Fraser in Ankara contributed to this report.

June 19, 2013

CAIRO (AP) — Egypt’s top Muslim cleric declared Wednesday that peaceful protests against the president are permitted, in a snub to hard-line Islamist backers of Mohammed Morsi who declared that those behind opposition protests planned for June 30 are heretics.

In a statement, Sheik Ahmed el-Tayeb, the grand imam of the Al-Azhar mosque, stuck strictly to the question of whether Islam allows the protests — while underlining that they must remain peaceful — without weighing in one way or another on their political substance.

Still, the high-profile comment by the influential cleric appeared to be a cold shoulder to Morsi at a time when the president has tried to garner Al-Azhar support, meeting with el-Tayeb as well as the Coptic Christian pope, ahead of the planned protests. On the anniversary of his 2012 inauguration, the Islamist president’s opponents are aiming to bring out crowds nationwide demanding Morsi step down and early elections be called.

Morsi has said that while he has nothing but respect for “honorable” protesters, he accused loyalists of ousted autocrat Hosni Mubarak of being behind the planned demonstrations. His hard-line supporters have taken a tougher line, vowing to fight back against any violence by protesters. Some clerics declared those who organize or participate in the protests “kuffar,” or heretics, who should be killed.

The June 30 organizers have maintained that the protests would be peaceful, though many on all sides expect clashes to break out if Morsi supporters are also in the streets. Morsi used an Islamist rally held on Saturday to warn his opponents against the use of violence. Before he spoke, one of the hardline clerics organizing the rally, Mohammed Abdel-Maqsoud, recited an often repeated Muslim prayer against the “enemies” of God and Islam, using it to refer to the June 30 protesters.

Cairo’s Al-Azhar is the Sunni Muslim world’s foremost seat of learning and styles itself as a voice of moderation. With the political rise of ultraconservatives since Mubarak’s fall in Feburary 2011, el-Tayeb and other leading Al-Azhar clerics have actively pushed back against their strict interpretations.

In his statement Wednesday, el-Tayeb said that “peaceful opposition to the legitimate leader is religiously permissible and accepted.” Those who commit violence in the protests commit “a grave sin,” he said, but even that does not make them heretics who have broken with Islam.

He said Al-Azhar was obliged to speak out after the issuing of fatwas, or religious edicts, “attributed to random arrivals in the field of edicts and jurisprudence,” in an implicit jab at hard-line clerics.

The view that those who “rebel against a legitimate leader are kuffar and hypocrites” is only held by groups that have “deviated from the true path of Islam,” he said. “The honorable Al-Azhar also warns against declaring opponents non-believers and questioning their faith.”

El-Tayeb’s statement, posted on Al-Azhar’s official website, came a day after he and the patriarch of Egypt’s Coptic Christians, Pope Tawadros II, met Morsi. The timing of the meeting suggested that Morsi wanted the public backing of the two religious leaders ahead of the June 30 protests.

Morsi’s office said that in the meeting, he “expressed his appreciation … of how they can contribute to bolstering national unity and maintaining the nation’s supreme interests, along with safeguarding the nation’s security and stability.” The meeting dealt with “current conditions and challenges facing the nation,” the statement said.

There have been some tensions between el-Tayeb, who was appointed head of al-Azhar by Mubarak, and Morsi’s Islamist backers. Earlier this year, Morsi supporters stormed el-Tayeb’s office to protest an outbreak of food poisoning in a dormitory belonging to Al-Azhar University. The rare protest led to accusations by some el-Tayeb backers that Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood wanted to remove the Al-Azhar imam and replace him with a loyal cleric. The Brotherhood denied that.

Relations between Tawadros and Morsi also have not been smooth. The pope accused Morsi of doing nothing when his patriarchal seat, the Cathedral of St. Mark in Cairo, came under attack by a crowd throwing rocks and firebombs in April, while security forces looked on.

In a television interview aired shortly before Morsi met with the two religious leaders, Tawadros again criticized the Egyptian leader, saying nothing has changed after one year in office to improve the life of ordinary Egyptians. Addressing Egyptians at the end of the interview, the patriarch used heavy symbolism to point to the turmoil roiling Egypt since Mubarak’s ouster.

“Don’t give up hope even if there is pain. The night always ends and everyone must wait for a better day and better hope,” he told his interviewer. The June 30 protest campaign is rooted in a months-long petition drive called “Tamarod” — or “Rebel” — that claims to have collected up to 15 million signatures on a call for early presidential election. Organizers of the campaign say its success shows how anger at the government and the Brotherhood has transcended the core opposition to the public at large.

Morsi won a four-year term as president with some 52 percent of the vote in a run-off a year ago against Ahmed Shafiq, the last prime minister to serve under Mubarak. He secured the votes of many of the liberal and secular activists who engineered the 2011 uprising and who did not want to see a Mubarak loyalist rule.

Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood, meanwhile, on Wednesday blamed the secular and liberal opposition for a wave of violence the past three days over the appointment of new Islamist governors. Morsi named 17 new provincial governors on Sunday, including seven from the Brotherhood.

The Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party said opposition leaders’ rejection of Morsi’s invitations for dialogue were to blame for the violence in four Nile Delta provinces, the city of Alexandria and two regions south of the capital, Cairo. In those sites, protesters opposed to the new governors have clashed with Islamist supporters. The party statement made no mention of the part played by Morsi supporters in the clashes.

It warned that the violence was a preview of what could happen on June 30, and demanded police take all necessary measures to counter “sabotage and chaos” that day. Violence erupted anew Wednesday in the oasis province of Fayoum southwest of Cairo, where at least 20 people were lightly wounded when opponents and supporters of the Egyptian president pelted each other with rocks. The violence led to the cancellation of a Brotherhood rally there.