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Continued: Clashes erupt as Egyptian president's backers, opponents rally ahead of big weekend protest

  • Article by: TONY G. GABRIEL , Associated Press
  • Last update: June 28, 2013 - 8:20 PM

"We are against Morsi because he does not govern in the name of the Egyptian people, but in the name of the Brotherhood group," said Ayed Shawqi, a teacher at an anti-Morsi rally in Alexandria.

Outside the Rabia el-Adawiya Mosque, the pro-Morsi crowd waved Egyptian flags while speakers addressed them from a stage. A banner proclaimed, "Support legitimacy," the slogan Morsi's supporters have adopted, arguing that protests must not be allowed to overturn an elected president.

They also waved the Brotherhood's flag — a green banner with two swords — and carried Morsi posters and portraits.

"This is a revolution, and there is no other one!" they chanted. Speakers onstage praised the military and the crowd responded with, "The army and the people are one hand," seeking to keep the military on the side of the president.

"Those who burn and those who kill are the traitors of this nation," Brotherhood preacher Safwat Hegazi told the crowd. "Mr. President, use a heavier hand, your kind heart won't be any use. ... We want to complete our revolution and purify our country."

Assem Abdel-Maged, leader of the formerly militant Gamaa Islamiya group, threatened to "sever heads" of opposition supporters if they attacked the military. Rafai Taha, one of the leading figures of Gamaa Islamiya, was also onstage, next to Brotherhood leaders.

In his Friday sermon, the cleric of Rabia el-Adawiya warned that if Morsi is ousted, "there will be no president for the country," and Egypt will descend into "opposition hell."

Pro-Morsi marchers — many wearing green headbands with the slogans of the Muslim Brotherhood — chanted religious slogans. "It is for God, not for position or power!" they shouted. "Raise your voice high, Egyptian: Islamic Shariah!"

The anti-Morsi demonstrators in Tahrir Square also waved Egyptian flags. They cheered, clapped, whistled and chanted, "Egypt, Egypt, Egypt. Long live Egypt!" and "The people want the fall of the regime," a phrase heard repeatedly in 2011.

One banner depicted President Barack Obama and said, "Obama supports terrorism."

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