Morsi supporters set up 3rd protest camp in Cairo

Authorities announced plans Friday to
besiege two sit-ins filled with supporters of
deposed President Mohammed Morsi, but
hundreds of his loyalists defiantly set up a
third camp near Cairo's international airport.
The new vigil is in the eastern Cairo
neighborhood of Heliopolis, close to the
airport. Protester Hani el-Shafei said
thousands of supporters already set up tents
and blocked traffic. He said a military
helicopter flew over the new sit-in.
Riot police, meanwhile, fired tear gas at
Morsi supporters who rallied in front of a
complex housing most of Egypt's private TV
stations in southern Cairo, a security official
said. A second official told the state news
agency that protesters tried to "obstruct
traffic in an attempt to affect work at the
complex."
Egypt on edge: key players, flash points,
developments
State-controlled TV said security forces will
establish a cordon within 48 hours around the
two main sites --the Rabaah al-Adawiya
Mosque in eastern Cairo and a smaller one
near Cairo University's main campus in Giza
--where thousands have been camped out
since before the president was ousted by the
military on July 3.
Authorities will let people leave without
checking their identities or arresting them,
but they will not allow anyone into the
protest camps, the report said. It did not
elaborate on the next steps, but the
government earlier said it will use water
cannons and tear gas in dispersing the
crowds.
The move represents an attempt by the
military-backed interim government to end a
political stalemate that has paralyzed Egypt
and deeply divided the country. Supporters of
Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood say they
will not disperse until he is returned to
power as the country's first democratically
elected president.
The security cordon around the
protest camps raises the
possibility of more violence,
which has killed more than 130
Morsi supporters and injured
hundreds since the military
coup. The ouster followed
mass protests calling for Morsi
to step down after a year in
office and accusing him of
political failures and putting
power in the hands of his
Islamist group.
Friday's events occurred just
before U.S. Deputy Secretary
of State William Burns arrived
in Cairo.
Egypt's military deposed Morsi
on July 3, following days of demonstrations by
millions who rallied against him and the rule
of his Muslim Brotherhood.
Many say Morsi's one-year rule was rampant
with political failures and focused on
concentrating power in the hands of his
Islamist group.
Offers of 'safe passage" for
Morsi supporters
Meanwhile, Egyptian authorities on Thursday
offered "safe passage and protection" for
thousands of supporters of Morsi if they end
their marathon sit-ins in Cairo.
The Interior Ministry's offer appears to be
the first step by Egypt's interim military-
backed leaders to clear away the Morsi
supporters from where they have been
camped since shortly before he was toppled
by the army July 3.
The move came as an influential,
ultraconservative cleric warned that using
violence to break up the protests would lead
to more bloodshed.
READ: 'Safe passage and protection'
offered to Morsi supporters
The organizers of the sit-ins outside the
Rabaah al-Adawiya Mosque in eastern Cairo
and a smaller one across the city near Cairo
University's main campus in Giza portray the
protests as evidence of the enduring support
for Morsi's once-dominant Muslim
Brotherhood party.
Despite a government warning that it would
disperse the vigils, the Brotherhood and its
supporters announced plans to organize new
mass marches Friday, dubbed "Egypt Against
the Coup."
Protester Magdi Shalash dismissed Interior
Ministry threats.
"We don't even listen to it," said Shalash, a
university professor. "We will only leave as
dead bodies."
Rally speakers and leading
members of the Brotherhood
urged more people to join the
protest. In a video posted on
the Brotherhood's Facebook
page, Mohammed El-Beltagi
urged those at home to "join
us and get the honour of
martyrdom.
An influential ultraconservative
cleric gave an emotional appeal
to authorities to avoid
violence, which he said will
only lead to a cycle of
bloodshed.
"It is foolish to believe that
the problem will end in one
night and the conflict resolved
in one battle," Mohammed Hasaan, said in a
17-minute recording made in a mosque and
aired on Al-Jazeera Mubasher Misr, a pro-
Brotherhood broadcaster.
The continuing chaos has prompted an
announcement from the U.S. State
Department said it was shuttering its
embassies and consulates throughout the
Muslim world Sunday after receiving an
unspecified threat.
State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf
cited information indicating a threat to U.S.
facilities overseas and said some diplomatic
offices may stay closed for more than a day.
Rick Roth, a spokesman for Canadian Foreign
Affairs Minister John Baird, said the
government monitors events closely and
takes appropriate security measures. He
would not say whether any missions will be
closed this Sunday.
Roth added that if an embassy or consulate
is closed during normal business hours the
department of foreign affairs will update its
travel advisories on its website and notify the
public via Twitter.