After President's Ouster, Egypt Braces For More Unrest

As Egypt struggles with putting together a government, Cairo braces for more protests. NPR's Leila Fadel is in Cairo and talks to weekends on All Things Considered guest host Rebecca Sheir about the latest.

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It's WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Rebecca Sheir.

In Egypt tonight, two sides at loggerheads about what's best for the country are turning out their supporters.


SHEIR: That sound from Tahrir Square in the heart of Cairo where hundreds of thousands of opponents of deposed President Mohammed Morsi are rallying. In other parts of the city, Egyptians are coming out to call for Morsi's return to power.

NPR's Leila Fadel joins us now. She's overlooking Tahrir Square. Leila, tell us what you're seeing.

LEILA FADEL, BYLINE: Well, right behind me, there are hundreds of thousands of people setting off fireworks when military planes are flying over. They're cheering, trying to show that Egyptians are in support of the ouster of President Mohammed Morsi. But just across town, it's a much more somber feeling. People praying that he will return, vowing that they'll stay in the streets until his return, despite the fact that political developments continue to move forward.

SHEIR: Now, Leila, there was talk yesterday of the appointment of a prime minister. But then later on, the interim president back-tracked on that. What happened?

FADEL: Well, basically, state television declared that Mohamed ElBaradei, a Nobel laureate, a very well-known liberal figure here, would be appointed prime minister. But when it came time to confirm him, the presidency back-tracked. It seemed clear that this was because the second largest Islamist party here, rivals of the Muslim Brotherhood, rejected the appointment. He's quite a divisive figure, liberal figure who many criticized for never actually running in elections, but still speaking for the liberals of Egypt.

So it's a sign really of the difficulties going forward getting a new prime minister, appointing an interim government.

SHEIR: And based on all this, what do we expect in the coming days?

FADEL: Well, we were very concerned today about more violence. Over the past few days when these protests have been out on the streets together, we've seen clashes between both sides. And in some cases, security force is shooting at pro-Morsi supporters. But tonight, we haven't seen that violence. And going forward, that is the concern. Will there continue to be unrest in the streets as both sides sort of compete for the legitimacy of speaking for the Egyptian people?

SHEIR: Have there been any specific reports of violence today that you know of?

FADEL: No. Today, surprisingly, has been quite quiet. The different protests on each side are staying within their own areas. As you can hear behind me, very celebratory here, wanting to show the world this is a good thing for Egypt. And as I mentioned before, on the other side, showing their resolve saying the only way forward is to bring back a president that was elected here in Egypt.

SHEIR: Is there any word yet on the whereabouts of Mr. Morsi? Has he been spotted anywhere?

FADEL: At this point, he is still missing. He's believed to be detained by the military basically. The last place he was at was the Republican Guard headquarters where he was speaking with the military. According to aides of the president, he went missing, he went silent on Wednesday night and nobody's heard from him since. And his supporters are demanding that he be produced. They want to know where he is. And he isn't the only one who's been arrested. Many of the Muslim Brotherhood leadership, over a dozen that we know of, are in jail or detained.

SHEIR: That's NPR's Leila Fadel in Cairo. Thank you, Leila.

FADEL: Thank you.

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