Islamists protest in Egypt over detained women
CAIRO (AP) — Supporters of Egypt’s toppled president clashed with opponents Friday as security forces fired tear gas to break up their demonstrations over detained female protesters, part of an effort to draw wider support for their dwindling rallies. At least two people were killed and 20 were injured, an official said.
Meanwhile, the panel rewriting Egypt’s constitution approved an amendment abolishing the upper house of the country’s parliament, a decision that ultimately will rest with the country’s voters.
Egypt has seen near-daily protests across the country since a July 3 popularly backed military coup ousted President Mohammed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood-backed government from power. Friday, protesters again took to the streets after prayers to voice their dissent.
Clashes followed in some areas. In Cairo, near the Giza pyramids, two people were killed, including a 12-year-old boy, in fighting between Morsi supporters and local residents, Health Ministry official Ahmed el-Ansari said.
The Giza fighting saw attackers firing birdshot, hurling stones and using gasoline bombs, a security official said. Police used tear gas to end the clash, the official said.
In the city of Suez, a official said one person was seriously injured after being shot in the head during similar clashes. Police fired tear gas to disperse the crowds, the official said.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity as he wasn’t authorized to brief journalists.
In the Mediterranean city of Alexandria, an Associated Press journalist also saw security forces fire tear gas to end clashes there. The fighting left 20 wounded across the country, el-Ansari said.
Organizers called Friday’s protests “Egypt’s women are a red line,” referring to the arrest of 21 female demonstrators in Alexandria in October. Authorities accuse the demonstrators, including seven girls, of inciting violence and blocking roads during clashes there.
Mahmoud Gaber, the lawyer representing the 21 detained protesters, said their detention was “politically motivated.”
“A criminal has his legal rights respected,” Gaber said. “But for those who are against the military coup, they can’t even have their human rights respected.”
By making the protests not just about Morsi and the coup, organizers tried to draw new support to the rallies. While they continue, the number of participants has dropped drastically as a sharp security crackdown has seen thousands of Morsi supporters and Brotherhood members arrested.
Meanwhile Friday, the spokesman for the panel rewriting Egypt’s constitution said it voted for an amendment eliminating the Shura Council, the upper house of the country’s parliament.
The Shura Council took on a lawmaking role during Morsi’s tenure. Later, the Supreme Constitutional Court ruled the body unconstitutional just before Morsi’s ouster.
Authorities suspended the constitution after the coup. The amended constitution will be put to Egyptian voters for them to approve or reject within a month after the panel presents to the draft to interim President Adly Mansour.
Authorities hope to hold parliamentary and presidential elections next year, following a military-backed plan to return democracy to Egypt after the coup.