Egypt’s generals face their first big test today when supporters of ousted Mohamed Morsi pour on to the streets after Friday prayers to protest against the army-led coup.
Social networking sites and mosques are being used to rally support for the democratically elected president who has been put under house arrest.
An Islamist coalition led by the Muslim Brotherhood appealed to Egyptians to demonstrate in a ‘Friday of Rejection’ against the coup.
Arrest warrants for more than 300 members of the Brotherhood and their close allies were issued by the military yesterday while tanks and armoured vehicles were in place at strategic points across Cairo and other major cities.
Mohammed Badie, the supreme leader of the movement, was arrested near the Libyan border. Judicial sources said Badie, and his deputy Khairat el-Shater, who were seen as the drivers of the Islamist agenda followed by Mr Morsi, have been charged with inciting violence against protesters outside the Brotherhood’s ransacked HQ in Cairo.
And in the early hours of this morning, state television has reported that Islamist gunmen opened fire on El Arish airport in Egypt’s troubled Sinai Peninsula and at three military checkpoints.
The attackers reportedly fired rocket-propelled grenades at the army checkpoints outside the airport, close to the border with the Gaza Strip and Israel, in the latest of a string of security incidents in the lawless region, security sources said.
Although it was not clear whether the coordinated attack on several army positions was in response to the military overthrow of President Morsi.
Celebrations marking Mr Morsi’s overthrow continued yesterday although numbers were reduced from the millions who greeted news of the coup on Wednesday night.
Jubilant protesters chanted ‘No More Beards’ yesterday – a reference to the facial hair favoured by Islamists and the Brotherhood.
There are fears of a violent backlash from Islamists, particularly from hard-liners, some of whom once belonged to armed groups.
Clashes between Islamists and police erupted after the army’s announcement of Mr Morsi’s removal from power. At least nine died.
Egypt’s interim leader, Adli Mansour, used his inauguration to hold out an olive branch to the Brotherhood and promised elections – without indicating when they would be.
‘The Muslim Brotherhood are part of this people and are invited to participate in building the nation as nobody will be excluded, and if they respond to the invitation, they will be welcomed,’ said the senior judge. Promising to safeguard ‘the spirit of the revolution’ that removed Hosni Mubarak from power in 2011, he said he would ‘put an end to the idea of worshipping the leader’….