Egypt minister warns of lethal force ahead protest
Nov. 25, 2014
CAIRO (AP) — Egypt's interior minister warned Tuesday that his forces will use deadly force to counter any assault against public facilities in a message coming just ahead of a planned protest by Islamists.
A faction within the ultraconservative Salafi movement called the Salafi Front plans a protest Friday after dawn prayers to "topple military rule in Egypt," according to its official Facebook page, without elaborating. It comes after a lull in Islamist demonstrations following a heavy government crackdown in Egypt that left thousands dead and tens of thousands in prison.
While details remain vague, the demonstrations could be the first serious challenge the government of President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi after his election in June. As military chief, El-Sissi led the overthrow of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi last year.
On Tuesday, Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim told reporters while inspecting riot police that his forces will use "all means," including the use of firearms, in the face of "incitement ... by terrorist factions."
The Muslim Brotherhood, from which Morsi hails and which has been branded as a terrorist group, has said it supports Friday's protest. The country's religious authorities are dispatching clerics to speak out against the demonstrations. Another pro-government Salafi political faction called al-Nour has warned its followers against joining in.
A top jihadi figure in Egypt, Hani al-Sebaei, also has issued a video statement calling on protesters to raise Quran on one hand and weapons on the other Friday.
"You will be killing yourself if you raise the Quran only," al-Sebaei said.
Security officials said they fear the demonstrations could be used as a cover for attacks and bombings, especially after Egypt's main terrorist group, Ansar Beit al-Maqdis or Champions of Jerusalem, recently pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group. They said hundreds have been arrested over the past days in connection to the planned protest.
Officials said special forces, anti-terrorism units and riot police will be backed by soldiers and that all will be heavily armed. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to journalists.