Brotherhood supporters hold small rallies in Egypt

Several thousand people protest across country amid tight security after Friday prayers

Supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and Egypt's toppled president Mohamed Morsi take part in a demonstration against his ouster.
AFP/Getty Images

Several thousand people heeded calls by the Muslim Brotherhood and held small protests across Egypt Friday against the country's recent coup and deadly crackdown, as the police and army blocked key roads and tightened security.

The Brotherhood's call for mass protests and sit-ins will test how much the security crackdown has crippled the group and if they can still mobilize their base.

In one of the larger marches of about 5,000 people, protesters chanted slogans against the country's army chief, Gen. Abdel-Fatah el-Sissi, who led the popularly backed July 3 ouster of President Mohamed Morsi, a longtime leader of the Brotherhood.

"The people want the death of the assassin!" the protesters yelled while holding up yellow posters with the outline of four fingers.

Six people were killed and at least 190 injured in violence throughout Egypt during the protests, according to the Health Ministry. More than 200 Muslim Brotherhood supporters were arrested as well, accoding to the Interior Ministry. 

Morsi supporters have used the four fingers symbol in online and street campaigns to remember the Aug. 14 sit-in protest around the Rabaa el-Adawiyah mosque. "Rabaa" in Arabic means "fourth."

Security forces cleared out that sit-in and another one two weeks ago in violent raids that sparked several days of violence. More than 1,000 people, most of them people opposed to Morsi's ouster, have been killed since. The Interior Ministry says more than 100 policemen and soldiers have also died in the violence.

Protests have been reported in Nasr City and Mohandessine in the capital, Cairo, as well as in Giza City and Zagazig. Further protests have been reported in the Menuofia and Dakahlia areas in the Nile Delta.

Protesters also rallied in Shoubra al-Kheima in the area of Qalyobua, Morsi's hometown.

Security forces have shut all roads leading to the Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque, the state-run MENA news agency reported.

Roads leading to central Cairo's Tahrir Square, the Defense Ministry and around the al-Azbakia police station were also closed.

Riot police have surrounded the al-Qaed Ibrahim mosque in the coastal Egyptian city of Alexandria as well as the al-Iman mosque in eastern Cairo ahead of the demonstrations.

Egypt's security forces have accused the Brotherhood of using rallies to incite chaos.

The Interior Ministry said in a nationally televised statement Thursday that its forces would respond with "firmness" against acts that threaten national security, and that police had orders to use deadly force in defence of public and private property.

The Brotherhood released a four-page statement in Arabic Thursday, part of which called on security forces to disobey orders "to kill."

Meanwhile, Egypt's state news agency said unidentified gunmen in two cars opened fire on a police station in the upscale Cairo neighborhood of Heliopolis, killing an officer.

Authorities continued to hunt down senior Islamist leaders, arresting two top Brotherhood figures, including Mohamed el-Beltagy, on Thursday.

Beltagy, a former member of parliament and head of the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, was wanted on accusations that he incited violence. He had been on the run for nearly three weeks.

Some fear Friday's protests could spiral into another bout of violence.

Al Jazeera and wire services

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