Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood piles on the pressure

A demonstrator raises up a portrait of deposed Egyptian president Mohamed Morsy during a rally of supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood in Jerusalem on July 19, 2013. PHOTO | AFP 

Tens of thousands of Islamists poured onto Egypt's streets on Friday demanding the reinstatement of ousted president Mohamed Morsy, despite warnings by the military of a crackdown on violent protests.

The pro-Morsy protests came a day after the deposed leader's army-installed successor Adly Mansour vowed to fight for stability against opponents he accused of wanting to plunge the crisis-hit country "into the unknown".

Several thousand supporters of Morsy's overthrow by the military also descended on Cairo's Tahrir Square on Friday evening, setting off fireworks and chanting pro-army slogans in a carnival atmosphere.

Earlier, a vast crowd gathered at the Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque in the capital, where Morsy loyalists have camped out since the military overthrew him on July 3.

About 10,000 protesters then set off in the direction of an elite military compound, scene of the deadliest violence since Morsy's overthrow, carrying pictures of the deposed president and chanting slogans.

But they were blocked by soldiers and armoured vehicles.

"Islamic, Islamic," they shouted, airing their hopes for an Islamic state.

"I believe Morsy will return as president, God willing. The people will win in the end," said protester Mohammed, a 45-year-old veterinarian.

Smaller rallies took place elsewhere in Cairo and Egypt's second city Alexandria after the Muslim Brotherhood had called for a day of protests dubbed "Breaking the Coup".

'A massacre'

Morsy has been held in custody since his ouster and other senior Brotherhood leaders have also been detained, prompting international concerns.

UN rights chief Navi Pillay summoned the Egyptian ambassador in Geneva and requested information about those arrested in connection with the events of July 3, her spokesman said on Friday.

On the eve of the demonstrations, Mansour pledged to rein in those who wanted to push Egypt "into the unknown".

"We will fight the battle for security to the end. We will preserve the revolution," he said, in comments echoed by the army.

Although mostly peaceful, the pro-Morsy protests have resulted in deadly clashes, with the unrest claiming more than 100 lives in all, according to an AFP tally.

In the worst bloodshed, at least 53 people, mostly Morsy supporters, were killed outside the Cairo headquarters of the Republican Guard on July 8.

The Brotherhood accuses the army of committing a "massacre," while the military says it was responding to a "terrorist" attack.

The army had warned on Thursday that it would decisively confront any violent protesters.

"Whoever resorts to violence in Friday's protests will endanger his life, and will be treated with utmost decisiveness, within legal bounds," it said.

The Brotherhood has categorically refused to recognise Mansour's caretaker government, which was sworn in this week but with Islamist parties and movements totally absent.

The movement is placing its hopes in sustained protests it believes may reverse the political situation.

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