Egypt was gearing up for another Friday of protests, a day after an Egyptian court ordered the release of former president Hosni Mubarak from prison after two-and-a-half years, and his placement under house arrest.
Supporters of ousted Islamist president Mohammed Morsi — who succeeded Mubarak as Egypt’s first freely elected president last year — called for Egyptians to rally for a “Friday of Martyrs” in honor of the more than 900 people who died during the January 2011 revolution that brought down Mubarak after a 30-year rule.
“We will remain steadfast on the road to defeating the military coup,” a pro-Morsi alliance, the National Coalition to Support Legitimacy and Reject the Coup, said in a statement. The group named 28 mosques in Cairo as points of departure for the protests.
Egypt has been enduring its bloodiest period of civil unrest following the military ouster of Morsi on July 3, which was preceded by mass protests against him and his government.
The ouster sparked massive protests, an upsurge of violence in the Sinai Peninsula, and sit-ins by supporters that were violently dispersed earlier this month. Over 900 people were reported to have died since the army raided the pro-Morsi camps on August 14.
The military also launched a crackdown on the now-embattled Muslim Brotherhood, arresting many of its leaders. Morsi himself has been detained and kept out of sight since July 3.
The United States and the EU have voiced their alarm at the bloodshed in Egypt, warning the military-backed government in Cairo that aid packages would be reviewed in light of the heavy-handedness of the army and the killing of civilians. The current Egyptian government, however, is saying that the country is in the midst of a “fight against terrorism,” and has rejected the threats to suspend aid.
Some Egyptians who rallied behind the army-backed ouster of Morsi, like the Tamarrod [rebellion] group, which was instrumental in organizing the mass rallies calling for his removal, were against the release of Mubarak, fearing that the military was trying to reinstate the old order.
The group published a tweet Friday denouncing the release: “#Tamarrod freeing Mubarak is triumph for illiteracy, poverty, disease and tyranny.”
But the decision to place him under house arrest — instead of letting him go free — appeared designed to ease some of the criticism over releasing Mubarak and to ensure that he appears in court next week for retrial on charges of complicity in the killing of protesters in the 2011 uprising, which could put him back behind bars.
He was acquitted on charges of corruption related to receiving gifts from a state-owned newspaper.
AP contributed to this report.