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Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood Set for Mass March

July 30, 2013

by Heather Murdock

As diplomats call for a peaceful settlement between supporters of ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi and the military-backed interim government, Muslim Brotherhood leaders say there will be no compromise.

Walls of sandbags have been rising around an encampment of Morsi's supporters, who plan more marches in Cairo into the evening.

At the edge of the pro-Morsi protest camp, some men shoveled sand into bags while dozens of others guarded the gates, many carrying sticks and wearing hard-hats as they searched bags and patted down anyone attempting to enter.

Several blocks into the camp, past the staging area where rallies calling for Morsi’s reinstatement have been held daily for weeks, is the camp’s media center.

Osama Morsi, the ousted president’s son, told VOA at the center that his family has not heard anything about his father’s health, safety or whereabouts since July 3, when the Egyptian army declared it was removing him from office after public opinion turned against him.

Muslim Brotherhood supporters view the move as a military coup.

Osama Morsi said his family is planning to ask the International Criminal Court to charge army chief Abdel Fattah el-Sissi and other military leaders with kidnapping, falsifying evidence and incommunicado incarceration.

Ashton meets Morsi

Meanwhile, the European Union's foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said she met Monday night with the ousted president. Ashton said he was in good health but did not give many other details.

“We talked for two hours, we talked in depth," she said. "He has access to information in terms of TV, newspapers, so we were able to talk about the situation, and we were able to talk about the need to move forward."

Ashton is one of several top diplomats in the U.S., Europe and across the region calling for compromise between the military-backed interim government and the Muslim Brotherhood.

As thousands of protesters pray in the camp before beginning another long night of marches and rallies, however, Muslim Brotherhood spokesman Gehad el-Haddad said compromise will not end what has become a standoff between Morsi supporters and the Brotherhood on one side, and Sissi supporters and the army on the other.

Standoff remains

Like some interim government supporters across town, Haddad said the only way to end what has become a nationwide standoff, is for the other side to back down.

“There is only one way for this to end," he said. "The military coup has to be reversed. I mean even if that takes a couple of more months or even a year. We’re not going to leave here. They have no other option. They really don’t have another option.”

Haddad said the group plans to expand the camp now occupied by pro-Morsi supporters, despite orders to dismantle the tents, makeshift kitchens, clinics and a professional-looking stage.

Hundreds of people already have died in clashes since Morsi’s ouster, including nearly a hundred who died early Saturday just outside the camp.

The Muslim Brotherhood is planning to stage dozens of rallies across Cairo on Tuesday, and protesters in the camp say they expect more violence. The government has warned that any violations of the law will be dealt with “firmly.”

And while protesters vow that they are non-violent and unarmed, sandbags pile up around the tents and Morsi supporters say they will fight to protect the women and children inside.

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