Cairo — Islamist allies of Egypt’s ousted president, Mohamed Mursi, called on people to protest on Friday to express outrage at his overthrow by the army and to reject a planned interim government backed by their liberal opponents.
In the Sinai peninsula near Israel, gunmen fired rocket-propelled grenades at army checkpoints guarding an airport and rocketed a police station near the border with the Palestinian territories. One soldier was killed and two wounded, a security source said. The authorities declared a state of emergency in Suez and South Sinai provinces.
Dozens of people were wounded in clashes in Mursi’s Nile Delta home city on Thursday, raising fears of more of the violence in which several dozen have died in the past month.
How the army deals with any trouble will help determine future support for Cairo from the United States and other international powers.
Concern that the generals have carried out a military coup against Egypt’s first freely elected leader has left Washington reviewing the $1.5 billion in mostly military aid it annually gives Egypt. U.S. law bars aid for countries where the military has toppled an elected government in a coup. Washington has so far avoided using that label.
The planned protests have the slogan “Friday of Rejection”.
Outside the Rabaa Adaweya mosque in a Cairo suburb, where Mursi supporters have gathered over the last week, the army deployed extra armoured vehicles several hundred metres from makeshift barricades. Thousands of people milled around the area, while a group of about 50 men shouted pro-Mursi slogans.
“Down, down with military rule!” they chanted. “We call for jihad in the whole country.”
In the skies above the teeming city, the airforce staged fly-pasts, with jets leaving red, white and black smoke streams - representing the Egyptian flag - behind them in a show of force the military has employed frequently since Mursi’s ouster.
A military source said: “We will continue to secure the places of protest with troops, and jets if necessary, to make sure the pro- and anti-Mursi demonstrators don’t confront each other. We will let them demonstrate and go where they want.”
Mursi’s political opponents insist there was no coup.