CAIRO -- Rival rallies kicked off here Saturday on the third
anniversary of the nation's uprising, raising fears of more violence a
day after a string of deadly blasts shook the capital.
forces heightened their presence across Cairo, flying military
helicopters overhead and blocking major roads including those leading to
Tahrir Square, the heart of the 18-day uprising against longtime
dictator Hosni Mubarak in 2011.
An anti-coup alliance led by
Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood called for anti-government demonstrations to
begin at more than 30 meeting points citywide following midday prayers.
Over the past six months the Brotherhood has continued to protest in
Egypt's streets, claiming the nation's current leaders have no
"People wouldn't give up demanding freedom and dignity," the anti-coup alliance said on Twitter ahead of Saturday's protests.
The Brotherhood's resolve is rooted in a military coup that forced the
movement out of power last summer. After Mubarak's 2011 ouster, the
Brotherhood was the nation's most popular political force, winning the
most seats of any party in a parliamentary vote. Then Mohamed Morsi, one
of the Brotherhood's own, was elected president in 2012 in a major
turning point for a movement that was repressed for years under Mubarak.
But the tides dramatically shifted again when millions rose up
against Morsi last year in anger over his leadership. Egypt's army chief
took charge, a constitution drafted under Morsi was suspended, the
nation's legislature was dissolved and Morsi was swept into detention.
Supporters of the power shift refer to it as the "June 30 Revolution."
with seemingly widespread support, now consider the Brotherhood a
terrorist group and are intensifying a crackdown on any political
"The Egyptian authorities are using every resource at
their disposal to quash dissent and trample on human rights," Amnesty
International said in a scathing report released earlier this week.
years on, the demands of the '25 January Revolution' for dignity and
human rights seem further away than ever," said Amnesty's Hassiba Hadj
Sahraoui, deputy director of the Middle East and North Africa Program.
"Several of its architects are behind bars and repression and impunity
are the order of the day."
But the nation's military and interim
leaders are solidly backed by Egyptians who believe Egypt's army chief,
Gen. Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, saved the nation from civil war between
opposing political groups - and from the Muslim Brotherhood - when he
ousted Morsi last summer.
"Sisi is a good man," said Mohammed Karim, who works in a shop on
Tahrir Square and backs Egypt's leaders. On Saturday, he said, "you're
going to see millions in the streets" to celebrate the university of the
Egypt's interior minister has urged Egyptians to
take to the streets to commemorate the Jan. 25 uprising, which
authorities say was protected by last summer's June 30 Revolution.
June 30th revolution took place in order to put the January 25th
revolution back on the right track after some forces tried to hijack it
for personal gain," Egyptian President Adly Mansour said in a speech.
revolution came to mend a rift that was caused by the malfeasance of
some leaders and individuals who erred from their responsibility to
protect this nation and its people," he said. "They abused their power,
which was granted to them only to protect and serve the people."
Beit al-Maqdis, an al-Qaeda inspired group, claimed responsibility for a
string of deadly attacks that tore through the capital Friday,
according to the monitoring service SITE, which tracks international
terrorists. The organization, which is based in Egypt's restive Sinai
Peninsula, also attempted to assassinate Egypt's interior minister last
The first blast resounded in Egypt's capital Friday around dawn
outside a police headquarters in downtown Cairo. Two separate explosions
followed almost immediately on the opposite side of the Nile, which
runs through the capital, the state news agency MENA reported. A fourth
blast took place later in the day in an attack on a police convoy. Six were killed in the blasts and dozens were wounded, the state news agency reported.
In addition, clashes between protesters and security forces Friday killed 14 people, Reuters reported.
Saturday, another bomb went off near a Cairo police institution, but
caused no casualties, spokesman for the Interior Ministry told the
The U.S. Embassy in Cairo condemned the
attacks Friday, and urged Americans to be alert and limit their
movements ahead of Saturday's rallies.