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Politics to fore as Egyptian rivals celebrate Eid

By Vision Reporter

Added 8th August 2013 05:09 PM

Bitterly divided Egyptians prayed in public and children played as they celebrated the Eid al-Fitr holiday on Thursday.

Politics to fore as Egyptian rivals celebrate Eid

Bitterly divided Egyptians prayed in public and children played as they celebrated the Eid al-Fitr holiday on Thursday.


Bitterly divided Egyptians prayed in public and children played as they celebrated the Eid al-Fitr holiday on Thursday.


But the barbed wire and armoured vehicles in the streets of downtown Cairo and the barricades around Islamist protest camps attested to the dangerous political edge to the festivities.

Rival supporters of ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi and the new army-installed government converged on separate sites in the capital of the Arab world's most populous nation against the background of crisis.

Families flocked to dawn prayers at the Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque, focal point of Islamist opposition to the government, then strolled and picnicked around the area.

"This is the best Eid of my life," said Ali Mohamed, 40, a farmer from a village near the Nile Valley town of Minya, south of the capital. "It's victory or death now. We had five elections and that traitor Sisi has reversed all that."

He was referring to army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who led the overthrow of the Islamist Mursi on July 3 after huge demonstrations against his rule.

Egypt has been dangerously polarised since then with Mursi's Muslim Brotherhood and its loyalists demanding his reinstatement and the government and its supporters saying they are finished.

Tension has prevailed at the Brotherhood protest camps after the security forces threatened to dismantle them. Protesters have erected sandbag-and-brick barricades and armed themselves with sticks to confront any attack.

But Eid - the four-day holiday which marks the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan - offered a measure of relief.

Thousands packed into the Rabaa camp, spilling onto a street where security forces shot dead more than 80 Mursi supporters in clashes on July 27.

Boys lit firecrackers and worshippers handed out sweets and offered greetings to each other, an Eid tradition. Street stalls sold tea, snacks and plastic toys.

Others hawked posters of Mursi and green headbands with the Islamic inscription "No God but God". One table sold tear gas masks and swimming goggles.

Groups chanted "Interior ministry thugs! "Egypt, our country," and beat drums.

"We want to live as free Muslims," said a 45-year-old English teacher, who gave her name only as Emmy. She wore a full face veil and gloves, a style favoured by the ultraconservative Salafi Muslims.

"We don't want to be insulted in police stations. We don't want to be harassed for wearing these veils or for growing beards."

She said she wanted to work as an interpreter but companies would not hire her because of her dress.

Emad Abdelaziz, 53, an engineer, attended prayers with his wife and three daughters, all dressed smartly for the occasion.

"We came to Rabaa for the prayer because this year is not like any other. We are here to demand Mursi's return," he said.

Ghada Idriss, 35, had travelled from rural Minya province with her husband, two young sons, and two-month-old daughter.

"I came here because I want to make a small difference," she said. "By sitting here peacefully, they will understand and know that we refuse the return of the system of Hosni Mubarak."

 

Politics to fore as Egyptian rivals celebrate Eid

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