Archive for July 18, 2013


July 09, 2013

By Aziz El Yaakoubi

RABAT: The junior partner in Morocco’s governing coalition will resign on Tuesday over planned cuts in food and energy subsidies and other issues it believes will hurt the poor, a spokesman for the conservative Istiqlal party said.

Istiqlal is in coalition with the Islamist Justice and Development party (PJD) that won 2011 legislative elections held after the adoption of the new constitution proposed by King Mohamed to stifle the Arab Spring protests.

“Our ministers will submit their resignations to the prime minister on Tuesday, we are no longer members of this coalition,” Istiqlal spokesman Adil Benhamza told Reuters.

“Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane is acting like the head of a political party rather than the head of a government that represents the people,” he added.

It remained unclear whether the king, who wields ultimate power, would accept the six ministers’ resignation, though political analysts said Istiqlal’s move did not seem spontaneous and may have had at least partial support from the palace.

If the king accepts the resignations, Benkirane must seek a new coalition partner or call an early election. Analysts say the first option is more likely.

The government, under pressure from the International Monetary Fund, plans cuts of around 20 percent in subsidies of basic goods that burned up 53.36 billion dirhams of public money, or 6.4 percent of national output, in 2012.

The reforms, due to be introduced after the holy fasting month of Ramadan, will spell pain for households used to subsidized oil, gas, sugar and other staple goods.

Istiqlal controls the finance ministry and five other cabinet portfolios.

“PJD wants to raise prices and hit the poorest, while we prefer to pick up some billions which are in the hands of speculators by controlling imports,” Benhamza said.

Under the government plans, an automatic adjustment of prices will cut spending on subsidies to 42 billion dirhams or less, as it is fixed by the 2013 budget, which is based on an oil price of $105.

“The adjustment will be in both directions. When (oil) prices are less than $105, that will let Moroccans consider that it is not necessarily a bad thing,” General Affairs Minister Mohamed Najib Boulif told Reuters recently.

Benhamza described the automatic adjustment as a “trap”.

“There are no adjustments, prices will rise,” he said, adding that his party also opposed a government decision to cut state investment by 15 billion dirhams ($1.8 billion).

The political establishment around King Mohammed is anxious to avoid a drop in living standards and prevent a repeat of street protests seen in 2011, which the king managed to stifle with social spending, harsh policing and constitutional reforms that paved the way for the PJD to come to power.

Last year, Morocco agreed a two-year, $6.2 billion precautionary credit line with the IMF.

Prime Minister Benkirane said the IMF had criticized his government last month for acting too hesitantly in implementing reforms to improve Morocco’s public finances.

Source: The Daily Star.

Link: http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2013/Jul-09/223082-junior-partner-to-quit-morocco-coalition-party.ashx.

By Hayam el Hadi

7 July 2013

Algiers — Algeria’s celebration of its 51st anniversary of independence on Friday (July 5th) midst the absence of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and a multitude of political, social and economic challenges.

This was the first time for Bouteflika, who has been hospitalized in France since April 27th, to miss the event.

Still, flags were flying across Algeria. Music concerts, theatrical shows and sports activities were organised in all provinces and Algerians enjoyed big fireworks displays.

Citizens young and old celebrated the anniversary of independence in their own ways.

In family groups or with friends, many of them danced and sang patriotic songs. They all shared the hope for a bright future in Algeria.

“Every year, this occasion is an opportunity to take stock of what has been done and what still needs to be done,” teacher Naima Mesbah told Magharebia. “Today, our country no longer faces the threat of terrorism. That comforts us and gives us hope for better days.”

She added: “Now we need to take on the challenges of economic growth and social and political stability. If we succeed, we will be able to say that our country has well and truly come through the crisis.”

Other celebrants in Algiers voiced similar concerns about the future.

“Today, Algeria seems to be at a crossroads,” university researcher Mohamed Fellahi said. “We are a few months away from a presidential election that will be crucial. The context is a very special one. The question of who will succeed Bouteflika is being asked now more than ever before.”

“We are keeping a very watchful eye on all of the agitation among politicians,” he added. “This election will be crucial for the direction of the country.”

For young Algerians, employment was the big issue.

“The most important thing today is for all of these young graduates to be able to find jobs,” 24-year old Salima Akrouche said. “The fact that Algeria is a stable country is meaningless if, after a long university education, we can’t aspire to a job corresponding to our training.”

Indeed, unemployed laborers used the occasion of the anniversary to stage demonstrations in Ouargla last Thursday.

“We will go around the town before heading, as planned, to the headquarters of the province of Ouargla,” National Committee for Protection of the Rights of the Unemployed (CNDDC) spokesman Tahar Belabes told Tout sur l’Algerie.

Earlier this week, similar protests were organized in Sidon, Djelfa, and El Oued.

Source: allAfrica.

Link: http://allafrica.com/stories/201307082311.html.

Jul 11, 2013

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) – A Turkish Islamic human rights group has petitioned for Egypt’s military chief and 10 other officials to be put on trial for crimes including murder, torture and unlawful imprisoning under a law that allows prosecution of such crimes by Turkish courts, even if they were not committed in the country.

Ahmet Faruk Unsal, who heads the Ankara-based Mazlum-Der group, said Thursday he filed the complaint with prosecutors against the Egyptian defense minister and the military-backed government this week for deposing Islamist leader Mohammed Morsi through a “coup.”

He added, however, that prosecutors need the Justice Ministry’s permission before starting possible action against Egyptian leaders.

Turkey’s Islamic-rooted government, which had forged an alliance with Morsi, has also spoken out against his ouster and has demanded his immediate release.

Source: New Jersey Herald.

Link: http://www.njherald.com/story/22811826/turkish-group-wants-egyptian-leaders-prosecuted.

July 10, 2013

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey’s parliament banned a union from approving construction projects, with opposition parties saying Wednesday the group of architects and city planners was being punished by the government for challenging redevelopment plans in Istanbul that ignited nationwide protests last month.

The surprise measure was passed late Tuesday with the votes of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling party, which holds a parliamentary majority. The move, which requires the president’s approval before taking effect, would hand over the powers of the Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects to the ministry in charge of the environment and urban planning. It also deprives the union of a major source of revenue.

Ali Uzunirmak, a member of Turkey’s nationalist party, called the measure “pirate” legislation that avoided discussions in parliamentary committees since it was debated in a midnight session. The government defended the measure saying it would benefit architects and engineers who are not members of the union.

Union members had opposed construction plans for Istanbul’s Taksim Square, including the demolition of Gezi Park, one of a few remaining green spaces in the area. A police crackdown on a sit-in to protect the park ignited nationwide protests in June that turned into expression of discontent with what opponents say is Erdogan’s increasingly authoritarian style of governing. The death toll in the protests, meanwhile, increased to five Wednesday when a demonstrator who was in a coma died.

“With this proposal, the government is making the (Union) pay for Gezi,” Milliyet newspaper quoted pro-secular opposition legislator Akif Hamzacebi as saying while speaking out against the measure in Parliament. “This is an extension of the government’s witch hunt.”

On Monday, seven activists opposed to the redevelopment plans — all members of the Union — were detained as they tried to reach Gezi for a rally they had organized. Their homes were searched Tuesday, according to media reports. The European Union’s expressed concern over the detentions and called on Turkey to respect “fundamental freedoms.”

Erdogan, who rejects charges of authoritarianism, has blamed the protests on a conspiracy against his government, which received 50 percent of votes in 2011 elections.

July 18, 2013

BEIRUT: Kurdish fighters expelled jihadists from the Syrian flashpoint frontier town of Ras al-Ain and the nearby border crossing with Turkey, activists said Wednesday, in escalating fighting that could signal another front in Syria’s fractious civil war.Kurdish fighters took total control of Ras al-Ain “after 24 hours of fighting.

The [jihadist] groups were expelled from the whole of Ras al-Ain, including the border post” with Turkey, said director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Rami Abdel-Rahman.

Earlier, the Britain-based opposition group had reported clashes between Kurds, Nusra Front, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and other groups.

Ras al-Ain has a majority Kurdish population and is of strategic importance because of its location close to Turkey.

Kurdish fighters are trying to ensure that neither the regime of President Bashar Assad nor the opposition takes control of the area.

The clashes between Kurdish fighters and jihadists erupted after Nusra Front attacked a convoy of Kurdish women fighters, Abdel-Rahman said.

Nine jihadists and two Kurdish fighters have been killed since the fighting broke out, the Observatory said.

Activists in Ras al-Ain said members of the jihadist groups had taken advantage of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which began last week, to try to impose their extreme version of Islam.

In the early days of the Syria conflict, when opponents of Assad’s regime were desperate for help from any quarter, jihadist fighters were welcomed but a spate of abuses has fueled a major backlash.

Charles Lister, an analyst at IHS Jane’s Terrorism and Insurgency Center, pointed out that tensions between Kurdish fighters and Islamist rebels go back months, and have persisted despite a series of cease-fires.

Other fighters perceive the Kurds as “interested only with Kurdish interests, rather than those of Syria or of Islam,” he said.

Additionally, “the predominance of more liberal values – in terms of lifestyle, appearance, and culture – make Kurds a typical target of Islamist derision.”

He said the Ras al-Ain clashes “emphasize the potential for damaging distractions to emerge for Syria’s anti-government opposition.”

A reporter at the scene told The Daily Star the Kurdish fighters with the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), a Syrian affiliate of the militant Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) were trying to extend control of the area and fighting was expected to spread to the Iraqi border.

“Nusra need oil,” he said, “they cannot leave the oil near the Iraqi border.”

The reporter, who asked to remain anonymous, said he expected heavy fighting to break out in Tal Abyad, east of Ras al-Ain, next.

The fighting also risked raising tensions with Turkey, after fighting spilled over the border, killing a Turkish teenager and wounding two others.

That prompted a response from Turkey’s military, which said it fired into Syria in retaliation for bullets that struck Turkish territory.

In another border spillover of Syria’s civil war Wednesday, gunmen from Syria infiltrated a disused army outpost in the Israeli-occupied area of the Golan Heights just beyond the cease-fire line, a military spokeswoman said. The incident, which occurred overnight, saw an unspecified number of Syrian gunmen entering the position and firing toward an Israeli army patrol, which returned fire.

“Yesterday evening, suspicious movement was spotted in an unmanned … [Israeli army] position east of the fence in the southern Golan Heights,” the army spokeswoman said, indicating the post was in Israeli territory.

“Then shots were fired at the patrol in the area and they returned fire at the source,” she said, adding that there were no injuries or damage on the Israeli side.

It was not immediately clear whether any of the Syrian gunmen had been hurt in the exchange.

The incident came a day after several mortar rounds hit the Israeli side of the Golan, causing several fires to break out along the cease-fire line as Syrian rebels battled regime forces near the Qunaitra crossing.

Elsewhere in Syria, a child and six men were killed when a car bomb attack hit Kanaker in Damascus province, the Observatory said.

In the north of the capital, troops renewed their shelling campaign of rebel areas in Barzeh, while clashes also raged in the neighborhood, the group added.

And in the central city of Homs, an army onslaught aimed at taking back rebel districts was in its 18th day, activists said.

Troops began a new attempt to break into the rebel area of Bab Houd, which like other districts of Homs has been under tight army siege for more than a year, Homs-based activist Yazan told AFP via the Internet.

Source: The Daily Star.

Link: http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2013/Jul-18/224103-kurds-drive-al-qaeda-fighters-out-of-ras-al-ain.ashx.

July 12, 2013

SIDON, Lebanon: Supporters of fugitive Sheikh Ahmad al-Assir held a rally Friday in a suburb of Sidon, south Lebanon, calling for the return of the Salafist preacher whose gunmen fought deadly clashes in June against the Lebanese military.

Over 200 Assir supporters marched from the Bilal Bin Rabah mosque, where Assir used to deliver his fiery sermons, in Abra, east Sidon, following Friday prayers. The supporters held a similar rally last week.

In late June, armed supporters of Assir opened fire on a military checkpoint in Abra, killing several soldiers and prompting a swift crack down by the Lebanese Army. The clashes that ensued led to the killing of over a dozen soldiers and at least 28 of Assir’s fighters.

Assir, who remains at large, reportedly fled the area hours before the military seized control of his security complex in Abra.

Source: The Daily Star.

Link: http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Local-News/2013/Jul-12/223436-assir-supporters-rally-in-south-lebanon.ashx.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Despite the well-known difficulties of estimating large crowds, it is clear that the numbers game was played by the opposition and the military to orchestrate and justify the coup d’etat against President Mohamed Morsi. For whatever reason, several external parties also used the numbers claimed to validate their support for the military intervention.

The Army presented a video to the media taken by military helicopter of demonstrations in Cairo to justify their coup; emphasizing that the entire population had risen up against President Morsi and as such, it had no choice but to align itself with the people. No one questioned the fact that some of the video footage presented as evidence against Morsi was actually the filming of a pro-Morsi demonstration.

Disturbingly, certain countries in the west and leading political figures supported the argument without confirming the veracity of the figures quoted. They went along with the coup, which to all intents and purposes targeted not just the elected president but the entire process of democratic transition in Egypt, on the basis that this was the will of the overwhelming majority of the people.

To give their statistics an air of respectability and credence, the anti-Morsi alliance claimed that their crowd statistics were obtained from coverage and analyses conducted by Google Earth. Though never confirmed by the satellite giant, the estimates given ranged from 14.3 million to 33 million demonstrators. A search of the net revealed no official statement by Google Earth to confirm these claims. Meanwhile, MEMO requested a comment from Google but has not received a reply.

What made matters even more dubious was the intervention by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who said that the army had to choose between “intervention or chaos”. He added that while “seventeen million” on the streets is not an election, “it is an awesome manifestation of people power.”

Ten years ago, on 15 February 2003, the organizers and media reported that two million British citizens marched in London against the war in Iraq. The Metropolitan Police estimated the crowd to be at least 750,000. Notwithstanding, Mr Blair ignored his people with consummate disdain. The enormity of that historic demonstration was recorded by a Metropolitan Police helicopter. At the time, London was not alone in its opposition to the invasion. There were simultaneous demonstrations in 800 other cities around the world, and an estimated 30 million protesters participated in what was considered the largest global demonstrations in one day in the history of mankind. That said, comparing the videos of these demonstrations to that of 30/6, it seems highly improbable that 30 million people or even a tenth of that figure were mobilized in Egypt on 30 June.

Although Google is yet to confirm the huge figures quoted by the Salvation Front and Tamarod, western researchers had previously used Google Earth Ruler to measure the capacity of Tahrir Square and the accessible spaces surrounding it. Having used this method himself, Dr Clark McPhail an emeritus professor of Sociology at the University of Illinois, and an expert in the science of crowd-sizing, ruled out the possibility of fitting one million people into the square.

While Cairo is by no means representative of Egypt it has, like most capitals, been the center of major national protests. The area of Tahrir Square is 53,000 square meters. While the area from its peripheries to the other side of the Nile across the Nile Palace Bridge is 13,000 sq m. The area from Tahrir Square to the 6 October Bridge is 20,000 sq m. Accordingly, the total area that contained the demonstrators was 86,000 square meters.

Assuming that the highest number of people which can be squeezed into one square meter is four, it means that the maximum capacity of Tahrir Square and its environs on 30 June was 344,000 demonstrators.

As for the area of the Presidential Palace and its environs, the video shown by the opposition revealed that the length of the demonstration was 1,400 meters (just under a kilometer and a half); it had a width of 45 meters, giving a total area of 63,000 sq m.

Added to this, there was another demonstration north of the palace in an area of 9,000 sq m. Altogether, therefore, the total area accessible to the demonstrators in the vicinity of the Presidential Palace was 72,000 square meters.

Accordingly, the total number of demonstrators around the Presidential Palace, using the base figure of four people per square meter, would be 288,000. The grand total from Tahrir Square and the Presidential Palace area would therefore be about 632,000 protesters on the day. These calculations are consistent with findings of various researchers and bloggers.

Even if the figures are stretched, the number of June 30 protesters could not have been more than a few million people in the whole country. In fact, no credible media, even those which inflated the numbers and exaggerated them, ever used anything other than the vague term, “millions of protesters”. The Egyptian media, however, were not as restrained in their reporting. Muhammad Hasanayn Heikal, the veteran Egyptian writer and former information minister under Gamal Abdel Nasser described the demonstrations on June 30 as “unprecedented in the modern human politics, larger than whatever England or France had witnessed.”

However, there is nothing in the conduct of the Egyptian media prior to June 30 that suggests that they would offer an impartial estimate of the crowds on the day. Their anti-Morsi and anti-Brotherhood campaign throughout last year and even after his overthrow, as well as the media’s role in endorsing, publicizing and cheering Tamarod’s actions from its inception until the realization of its aim, all prevent us from regarding the Egyptian media as a neutral and reliable source on the June 30 protests.

It is incredible that the coup plotters’ reference to Google Earth has never been viewed critically in Egypt, the Middle East or indeed in the west. People in positions of authority and influence have accepted the figures without any critical analysis or corroboration. Whether this was on account of their own laziness or because of complicity with the anti-Morsi opposition is anyone’s guess.

What is absolutely certain is that today Egypt stands perilously close to the brink of national disaster. With no constitution, no parliament and a civilian president handpicked by the military, the country has become politically paralyzed and polarized. Although the process of democratic transition which started on 25 January 2011 has clearly suffered a setback, it has not been aborted. The revolutionary Egyptians who brought down the Mubarak regime in 18 days will, in the fullness of time, regain the initiative and restore democratic legitimacy for the greater good. Unsubstantiated Google Earth estimates cannot replace the ballot box in ascertaining the real democratic will of the people.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: http://www.middleeastmonitor.com/resources/commentary-and-analysis/6574-30-june-anti-morsi-crowd-figures-just-dont-add-up.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

A report from the Egyptian Center for Media Studies and Public Opinion has revealed that most people in Egypt are opposed to the removal of President Mohamed Morsi from office. Only 26 per cent support the coup, with 63 per cent against it; 11 per cent of respondents did not give an opinion.

The questionnaire was based on a random sample of the Egyptian public. The Integration Egypt website said that the questionnaire’s credibility rate is more than 95 per cent.

The report’s authors said that the number of people who appeared to be anti-military coup is similar to the number who backed the Constitution in the referendum held last year. This suggests, says the report, that Morsi’s support in the country has not been affected negatively by media propaganda. The dominant pro-coup media claim that most Egyptians support Morsi’s removal.

Commenting on the demographic distribution of the pro- and anti Morsi camps, the center said that those who are pro-coup tend to live in Greater Cairo. In Upper Egypt, the figure against the coup rises to 83 per cent, but in Cairo it is just over half, at 52.8 per cent.

Of those who still support Morsi, 91 per cent say that the coup is an attempt to eradicate the “Islamic political project”; 86 per cent believe that he is still the country’s legal president, regardless of his political or religious background. Sixty-nine percent support Morsi because they do not want a return of the Mubarak regime in all but name; 57 per cent are opposed to military rule.

Those who are pro-coup appear to be divided in their reasoning. Sixty-six per cent wanted to overthrow the president in order to “regain” the civilian identity of Egypt, whereas 45 per cent backed the coup because they support military rule.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: http://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/6543-report-shows-that-most-egyptians-oppose-morsis-removal.

July 12, 2013

CAIRO (AP) — Tens of thousands of Islamists rallied Friday in cities across Egypt, vowing to sustain for months their campaign to restore deposed President Mohammed Morsi to power.

Ten days after the military coup that toppled him, however, Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood and its allies appear to have failed to bring a significantly wider segment of Egyptian society into the streets on their side.

The new military-backed administration of interim President Mansour Adly, along with the grand imam of Al-Azhar, the most prominent Sunni Muslim institution, floated offers for “national reconciliation.” Newly appointed Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi is reportedly promising to finish assembling his Cabinet by next week, a government official told Egypt’s state news agency. A presidential spokesman has said the Muslim Brotherhood will be offered posts.

The Brotherhood remains steadfast in its opposition, saying its supporters will stay in the streets for as long as it takes to force the reinstatement of Morsi, who was overthrown July 3 after four days of massive protests demanding his ouster.

At the main Islamist rally in Cairo, the crowd poured into a large boulevard in front of the Rabaah al-Adawiya Mosque, where Morsi supporters have been camped for two weeks. Egyptian flags, which were fewer in their previous rallies, outnumbered the usual green Islamic banners emblazoned with the Muslim profession of faith — a move to show their movement’s broader appeal. Chants and slogans focused on the military, many branding the army chief a “traitor.”

“We are ready to stay for a month, two months, a year, or even two years,” ultraconservative Salafi cleric Safwat Hegazi told protesters from a stage. The demonstrators there seem to have dug in for a long sit-in. Tents have been erected and toilets have been set up with brick walls for privacy. Protesters with helmets, homemade body shields and sticks guarded the site, which has drawn Morsi supporters from other provinces.

Army troops are staying about a kilometer (half-mile) away to avoid direct confrontations. On Monday, there were clashes with security forces near the Republican Guard headquarters not far from the site, with more than 50 people killed. Both sides blamed the other for the bloodshed.

Friday’s call for demonstrations had sparked fears of further clashes but no violence was reported. Now that the holy month of Ramadan has begun, when Muslims abstain from food and drink from sunrise to sunset, many of the protesters rested in their tents, reading the Quran or sleeping. After nightfall, the crowd got renewed energy.

“We have a daily routine of prayers and Quran recitations, then marches around the sit-in,” said Hassan al-Ghandoor, a tailor from the Nile Delta who arrived on the day of the military coup and hasn’t left since.

“The level of spirituality of this place helps us put up with the daily difficulties,” he said. “We are here for an objective, and we will stay here until it is accomplished.” Thousands more rallied across the Nile River in city of Giza, and Morsi supporters held a series of marches around the capital, converging on the main site. Protests were held in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria and other cities.

The Brotherhood and other Islamists face the question of how to step up their campaign. So far, they have succeeded in bringing out strong numbers of their own ranks — but there has been little sign of attracting a larger segment of the population.

Morsi supporters have touted their movement as a defense of democracy against a military coup that removed an elected leader, warning that the army is turning Egypt back to dictatorship. At the same time, however, many of its leaders use the rhetoric that appeals mainly to their political base.

Those opposed to Morsi were able to bring out millions in protests that began June 30 and demanded the president’s removal. Since his fall, those rallies have tapered off, although a crowd was in Tahrir Square on Friday evening for the traditional fast-breaking meal at sunset. The gathering was not intended to be a show of strength by the anti-Morsi camp.

The new administration is moving quickly with its transition, in part to force the Brotherhood to accept it and to show that Egypt is pressing ahead toward democracy. At the same time, authorities are making allegations aimed at showing Morsi supporters are linked to violence and militancy.

While speaking of reconciliation, the interim leadership has intensified its crackdown on the Brotherhood, starting criminal investigations against Morsi and issuing arrest warrants for other members of the group.

A number of Brotherhood leaders with arrest warrants issued against them are staying at a medical center connected to the Rabaah al-Adawiya Mosque, Brotherhood spokesman Ahmed Aref told The Associated Press, although he underlined that they are not hiding from arrest.

The Brotherhood’s top leader, Mohammed Badie, is not at the site, Aref said, adding that he did not know where he was. Morsi has been held in an undisclosed military facility since the coup. On Friday, the U.S. joined Germany in calling for his release. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the United States agrees with the German Foreign Ministry, which has urged an “end to all restrictive measures considering Morsi.”

Five other Brotherhood leaders are also in detention on various charges, and 10 others — including Badie —have arrest warrants against them on accusations of inciting violence. Gehad el-Haddad, the group’s spokesman, said in a message posted on his Twitter account that those in detention are “denied visitation, or delivery of clothes, food. All held in solitary confinement.”

Prosecutors said they will investigate allegations that Morsi and 30 others Brotherhood leaders escaped from prison in 2011 with help from the Palestinian militant group Hamas. That jailbreak occurred amid the uprising that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

Anger at the military was rife at Friday’s rallies. Posters emblazoned with the word “Traitor” depicted army chief Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi with blood coming from his mouth. Some banners appeared aimed at the foreign media, with English slogans such as, “Legitimacy is a red line” — emphasizing Morsi’s win at the ballot box.

“Did el-Sissi sell his religion cheaply?” one speaker on the Rabaah al-Adawiya stage asked. “Leave, el-Sissi!” the crowd replied. “We are designated martyrs,” the speaker added. “We call on el-Sissi and those who participated in this grand treason to repent.”

Speaking to the AP, the Brotherhood spokesman el-Haddad said the rally was growing, a continuation of the 2011 uprising that had been centered at Tahrir Square. “This is exactly what we did in Tahrir during the revolution. We are doing it here,” he said, adding that the Brotherhood can “keep functioning under a repressive police state.”

He said its support was growing, “and more locations in Cairo will come. We are not talking in weeks — we are talking in months.” Mostafa Youssef, 27-year-old cleric, described interim President Adly Mansour and his administration as “puppets while the real power is in the hand of the Supreme Council of Armed Forces. Civilians are just a facade.”

Officials in the sole Islamist party that backed Morsi’s removal, the Salafi Al-Nour, argued that the Brotherhood had to accept reality and said the party was reaching out through mediators to try to convince it.

“I know the Muslim Brotherhood has stamina,” said Amro Mekki, a senior Al-Nour figure. “We can disagree on whether this is a coup or a revolution, but there is a reality on the ground, and we have to deal with it not in a negative way.”

He said the Brotherhood needs to move into an opposition position within the new system.

Associated Press writer Maggie Michael contributed to this report.