05/07/2012, 00.00
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Soldiers and ordinary citizens together against Muslim extremists

After last Friday's clashes, calm prevails in front of Egypt's Defence Ministry building. Hundreds of members of the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafist groups defy the curfew and demonstrate. Catholic Church spokesman fears a new escalation of violence ahead of the upcoming presidential elections.

Cairo (AsiaNews) - "Dozens of private citizens are standing with soldiers in the streets near the Defence Ministry to prevent further violent protests by extremists. This is the first time that ordinary Egyptians are standing with the army since the fall of Mubarak," said Fr Rafik Greiche, spokesman for the Egyptian Catholic Church.

People want security, the clergyman told AsiaNews; they are opposed to Salafists and the Muslim Brotherhood. After months of press releases and statements in favour of democracy to win votes and win parliamentary elections, extremist Muslim groups now threaten to take up arms.

"People are afraid of those who praise Islamic Jihad," the priest explained. "They fear a new escalation of violence ahead of next month's presidential election."

Meanwhile, calm ha returned to Cairo's Abbassiya neighbourhood after Muslim extremists clashed with soldiers on Friday, causing the death of 12 people with more than 300 wounded.

Although police released 15 women and journalists arrested during the protests, the situation is critical for Fr Greiche.

 "What happened a few days ago confirms the urgency of holding presidential elections as soon as possible," he said. The danger is that the continuous flow of weapons from Libya into Egypt could turn the country into another Syria.

Egyptian media confirmed the presence of foreign nationals, especially from Pakistan, Libya and the Horn of Africa, in last Friday's demonstrations.

Yesterday, despite the government's curfew, hundreds of Salafists and members of the Muslim Brotherhood demonstrated in front of the Supreme Court demanding the release of prisoners and the death of General Tantawi, head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF).


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