Thousands Of Protesters Stage Opposing Rallies In Cairo

Friday saw a very tense situation in Cairo. Anti-Morsi crowds filled Tahrir Square and pro-Morsi crowds gathered on the Sixth of October bridge. There were skirmishes between the two groups but no major clashes. There was also almost no police presence in the area, except in helicopters flying above the fray. There were also confrontations in Alexandria.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish.

In Egypt, deadly clashes have erupted between the supporters of ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi and his opponents. Rallies for and against Morsi continued into the night. There are reports of Egyptian military forces killing at least two protesters who are demanding Morsi's reinstatement. At least six others also died. Ambulances have been ferrying the injured to nearby hospitals.

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CORNISH: And as tensions have risen, so has the rhetoric. The head of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohammed Badie, told his followers to stay in the streets until the president is reinstated, even if it means sacrificing their lives.

NPR's Leila Fadel joins us now from Cairo to discuss the latest. And, Leila, describe what's happening in Cairo right now.

LEILA FADEL, BYLINE: Well, basically, tonight, what we saw was Egyptian-on-Egyptian violence, pro-Morsi supporters going towards the square where anti-Morsi opponents were, and they clashed with fireworks, fireworks the other day we saw in celebration of this coup of Mohammed Morsi, today Egyptians attacking each other until the military finally intervened.

CORNISH: Now, what role did Egypt's military play in today's events, and have they said or done anything about the violence?

FADEL: Well, really, I've been at these pro-Morsi rallies today, and many of them say the Egyptian military has chosen sides, and they've chosen sides against us. They accuse the military of killing two protesters outside the Republican Guard headquarters where many people think the president is. And they feel that the military really is saying one part of the people is more legitimate, more important, than another part of the people.

CORNISH: Now, after the military coup, Muslim Brotherhood leaders were rounded up. Some of them have been released today. How far will that go to calm things?

FADEL: Well, I think analysts are saying this might really embolden supporters of the president who took to the streets today and, in some cases, clashed with authorities, and now they're seeing the release of some of their leadership. Hundreds - a hundred of arrest warrants were out. But now the rhetoric is really ratcheting up, and people are very concerned about an imminent civil war, that Egyptians will kill each other over the future of the state.

CORNISH: That's NPR's Leila Fadel in Cairo. Leila, thank you.

FADEL: Thank you.

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