CAIRO — Several thousand hard-line Islamists rallied in Cairo on Friday against a recent wave of violent anti-government protests, while liberal activists staged a smaller demonstration across town to call for accountability and justice from the country’s leaders.
The parallel rallies mirror the deep divisions that have plagued Egypt in the two years since longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak’s ouster, leaving the country’s politics polarized, its people frustrated and its economy battered by the continuous turmoil.
The current cycle of unrest erupted three weeks ago around the second anniversary of the uprising that toppled Mubarak. The opposition accuses Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, who was elected in June, and his Muslim Brotherhood party of trying to monopolize power and of using violence against dissenters.
In the latest accusation, activists of the Free Front for Peaceful Change say one of their members, Ibrahim Hanafi, was abducted by three men in a white microbus who poured boiling water on his back before dumping him on the side of the road.
“They told me to stay away from the Brotherhood and politics, and just worry about putting food on the table,” Hanafi says in the video uploaded to YouTube on Thursday.
Brotherhood spokesmen could not be immediately reached for comment.
The president and his backers insist that the opposition’s relentless protests calling for reform have hurt the economy and have made implementing changes impossible.
Egypt’s economy took another hit this week, with Moody’s rating agency downgrading five of the country’s banks, citing “the weakening capacity of the Egyptian authorities to support the government-owned banks.” Egypt’s foreign currency reserves have fallen below the central bank’s “critical minimum” to $13.61 billion, threatening the country’s ability to secure a nearly $5 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund that could free up other loan requests.MORE IN Wire News
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