Supporters of ousted president Morsi lock horns with police, civilian opponents in Cairo’s downtown and Giza; at least twenty-two injured. No deaths officially reported.
Clashes erupted Monday evening in Cairo`s downtown and Giza between police forces and large numbers of deposed president Mohamed Morsi supporters, who intensified their protests while reiterating their demand to reinstate the former elected president.
Violence first broke out after police forces fired teargas at pro-Morsi protesters to clear the Six of October Bridge above downtown`s Ramsis street, both of which were blocked by the demonstrations and turmoil.
According to Al-Ahram`s Arabic-language news portal, Morsi`s proponents blocked the bridge in both directions by parking trucks in the lanes, bringing traffic to a complete halt. Protesters also built a wall on top of the bridge in what seemed an attempt to permanently block it.
Live footage on Al-Jazeera showed teargas being fired into the air in Ramsis too. Al-Ahram`s Arabic site reported that street vendors also locked horns with Morsi supporters, refusing to let them stage a sit-in as planned.
Ahram Online`s reporter says the police have also used birdshot against protesters, and that a number of downtown residents and opponents of the Brotherhood joined the police against the pro-Morsi supporters.
Morsi`s supporters mainly hurled stones at the police after the latter fired teargas canisters.
The same reporter says at least two police personnel were injured by birdshot. Egyptian Ambulance Organization head Mohamed Sultan says twenty-two were injured in the clashes on the bridge and in Ramsis Street, some of whom sustained birdshot wounds. No deaths were officially reported.
Clashes continued after midnight on both Ramsis Street and the bridge above it. Tires were set on fire as the police intensified its presence on the bridge with at least eight trucks and many troops.
Egypt`s interior ministry said that it "had to use" teargas to disperse the pro-Morsi protest in downtown Cairo`s Ramsis Square, on the grounds that protesters blocked traffic in the area and allegedly threw rocks at passing cars.
The ministry claimed that police forces warned Morsi supporters "against disrupting public order," asserting that they only moved to disperse the crowd after protesters persisted despite the warning.
Several kilometers away, military police prevented around five thousand Morsi supporters – coming from the main pro-Morsi sit-in staged at Rabaa Al-Adawyia Mosque in Cairo`s Nasr City – from joining the Ramsis turmoil, according to Al-Ahram`s Arabic website,
There has not been any violence reported at the Nasr City sit-in, however.
Meanwhile, street battles also erupted in the Gamra neighborhood near Ramsis between residents and Brotherhood supporters, with both sides reportedly using birdshot against the other.
Researcher Mohamed El-Khamisi, an eyewitness, told Al-Ahram`s Arabic site that a group of youth badly beat up a couple of bearded men, while other Morsi supporters escaped through side streets.
Confrontations remained back and forth and several injuries were sustained, according to El-Khamisi.
Firefights also broke out between pro-Morsi protesters and unknown assailants near Giza Square in greater Cairo, state news agency MENA reported.
The Muslim Brotherhood, the group from which Morsi hails, had planned to dial-up pressure through separate protests across Cairo and other governorates on Monday.
Concurrent with Monday`s clashes, around two thousand Morsi supporters marched to the Republican Guard headquarters in Nasr City, where over fifty Morsi supporters were killed after clashing with military forces on 8 July. Security forces intensified its presence around the premises.
The march disturbed traffic in Nasr City, as did pro-Morsi protesters in Giza Square (forty-five minutes away by car) who gathered in support of him, blocking surrounding streets and the Gamaa Bridge.
MENA also reported that Morsi`s supporters staged a march on the Ittihadia presidential palace from Rabaa Al-Adawyia Mosque, amid heightened security measures around the presidential palace perimeter.
Other pro-Morsi marches were reported in a number of cities across Egypt, including Alexandria, Luxor, Damanhour and Suez to decry the popularly-backed military overthrow of Morsi.
Many of the protesters held up placards that read "no CC [in reference to defense minister Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi who announced Morsi`s ouster], Yes Morsi," as well as different sized photos of Morsi.
An alliance of forty Islamist parties and groups, led by the Muslim Brotherhood, has spearheaded a number of demonstrations across the country and especially in Cairo on Monday.
They are protesting the popularly-backed military overthrow of Morsi who, elected in June 2012, was ousted on 3 July as part of a political roadmap instituted by the armed forces following nationwide mass protests against him.
The Brotherhood and other Islamist political supporters reject what it describes as a blatant coup d`etat against Morsi`s democratic legitimacy.
At the sit-in staged at Rabaa Al-Adawyia Mosque, in which hundreds of thousands are taking part, deputy head of the Muslim Brotherhood`s Freedom and Justice party Mohamed El-Beltagi rejected what he described as violent dispersal of the pro-Morsi protest in Cairo`s Ramsis Square.
He also reiterated his side’s demands, rejecting the interim presidency`s call for reconciliation. "What [national] reconciliation are they speaking about? They are reconciling with the Mubarak regime symbols, not the Egyptian people," he said while giving a speech from the main stage.
"Morsi must be reinstated as president, the elected Shura council restored and the voted for constitution unfrozen in order for us to be involved in any talks."
In the early hours of Tuesday, MENA reported that military helicopters had dropped a set of flyers on Rabaa Al-Adawyia sit in, calling on protesters to back down.
"Honorable sons of Egypt, do you know that there are families who lost loved ones tonight…because of inciting edicts and rhetoric made by some who forgot God for the sake of their own benefit?...Be sure that your armed forces will not allow any terrorization or intimidation, whether for you or for any others," the flyers said.
[This article originally appeared on Ahram Online.]