Egypt’s rival political squares hosted annual prayers for Eid Al-Fitr — the holiday that follows the holy fasting month of Ramadan — early Thursday, followed by ongoing celebrations.
In response to calls by Egypt’s anti-Morsi Rebel campaign, and several aligned political forces, thousands gathered to attend prayers at the iconic Tahrir Square, followed by pro-military chants.
Both police and military forces were deployed to secure the square.
Sheikh Mazhar Shahin, known for his pro-revolution stance, led the prayers at Omar Makram Mosque located on the edge of Tahrir while Sheikh Gomaa Mohamed Ali led prayers from the square.
In his speech, Gomaa said he opposes any further bloodshed, stressing that pro-Morsi sit-ins at Rabaa Al-Adawiya Mosque in Cairo’s Nasr City district and at Al-Nahda Square in Giza need to be dispersed by peaceful means.
On Wednesday, Egypt’s interim prime minister, Hazem El-Beblawi, said the decision to disperse sit-ins held by supporters of former president Mohamed Morsi is final, calling on protesters to leave the sit-ins as quickly as possible, adding that the government will provide free transportation for that purpose.
Pro-Morsi supporters in Cairo and Giza also staged Eid Al-Fitr celebrations.
At Giza’s Al-Nahda Square, thousands of protesters gathered to attend the prayers led by Sheikh Mohamed Abdel-Maksoud who stirred controversy in June after he called Muslim Shias “unclean” at a pro-Syria conference held by deposed president Morsi.
In Cairo’s Nasr City, at the Rabaa Al-Adawiya sit-in, a speech was delivered by the wife of deposed president Morsi — conspicuously absent from the media under Morsi rule.
At least five marches called for by the pro-Morsi National Alliance to Support Legitmacy are expected to kick off Thursday, dubbed “Eid of victory.”
Supporters of Morsi — namely the Muslim Brotherhood and its Islamist allies — been staging the two sit-ins at Rabaa Al-Adawiya and Al-Nahda Square, as well as daily rallies demanding Morsi’s reinstatement, since his popularly-backed army ouster 3 July.
In Egypt’s second-largest city, Alexandria, supporters of Morsi took over the vicinity of Al-Qaed Ibrahim Mosque, which has witnessed clashes recently, and decorated it with pictures of Morsi and banners denouncing “the military coup,” reported Al-Ahram Arabic news website.
In a change of the norm, Sheikh El-Mahalawy, who is known for his pro-Islamist stance and his political sermons, did not lead the prayer at Al-Qaed Ibrahim Mosque on Thursday. It was lead by Sheikh Abdel-Rahman Nassar, who gave an apolitical speech.
Meanwhile, Interim President Adly Mansour, Vice President Mohamed ElBaradei, army chief Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and Prime Minister Hazem El-Beblawi attended prayers at the air defence headquarters.