Military Rides Wave Of Public Support In Egypt

The Muslim Brotherhood called for mass marches Friday, but with thousands of its members under arrest and the military deployed in anticipation, few showed up. Some fear Egypt is returning to a military state.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Egypt continues to grapple with fallout from the military overthrow of President Mohamed Morsi in July. President Morsi was propelled to electoral power through the Muslim Brotherhood. Now, the organization is under intense pressure as security forces arrest its members. Many hundreds have been killed in a security crackdown and a political solution seems all but impossible. And some fear that Egypt is returning to a military state. NPR's Leila Fadel sent this report.

LEILA FADEL, BYLINE: Yesterday, Brotherhood leaders called for mass demonstrations in honor of those killed.

(SOUNDBITE OF PROTESTING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

FADEL: But masses didn't turn out. A few hundred people gathered in each location, like this one in Cairo's satellite city, Giza. They flashed four fingers and held up black and yellow signs with the same symbol for rura(ph), or four, the name of the square where hundreds of pro-Morsi supporters were killed last week. The small turnout on Friday is a sign of the intense pressure the Brotherhood is under. In the past, they've always been able to get masses on the streets, but now thousands of people are under arrest, including much of its top leadership, and hundreds of people have been killed. The military deployed to the streets in anticipation of the demonstration. The security presence surely scared some away. Some 1,000 people have been killed in just over a week, if not more, including 100 from the security services. Asam Abu Mohammed(ph) is a pro-Morsi protester.

ASAM ABU MOHAMMED: Now, we are in Hosni Mubarak country. This is a new country we ever see before.

FADEL: Abu Mohamed refers to ousted autocrat Hosni Mubarak. He was let out of prison this week and put under house arrest. Abu Mohammed says the old guard is returning, and this time it's worse.

MOHAMMED: You know, Mubarak, even he put people in jail. He do all of these things. Mubarak don't kill us like that in the streets. We're not killed everywhere.

FADEL: But the military is riding a wave of public support for this crackdown. Many Egyptians have little sympathy with the organization, despite the mass killings by Egypt's security forces. They say Morsi ruled for a year and he failed, failed to make people's lives better, failed to rule inclusively and failed to reform a corrupt system. Leila Fadel, NPR News, Cairo.

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