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Egypt’s Crowd Democracy

The Egyptian army's chief is playing the populist card by asking Egyptians to turn out in massive demonstrations.
Anti-Mursi protesters carry posters of army chief Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi as they chant slogans during a mass protest to support the army in Tahrir square, Cairo, July 26, 2013. Many of those Egyptians opposed to ousted President Mohamed Mursi say their admiration for the army has never wavered, and that any anger was always directed at the generals in charge. In the turbulent world of Egyptian politics since Hosni Mubarak, a former air force marshal, was toppled, the military is seen as an institution that of

In a speech at a military graduation ceremony aired live on television, Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, chief of the Egyptian army, asked "honest Egyptians to take to the streets today, Friday, July 26, to reveal their will and authorize the army and police with a mandate and an order to do what is necessary to stop bloodshed.” This call, despite being warmly welcomed by most Egyptians, was met with reservations from some activists and sharply denounced by the Muslim Brotherhood and its allies.

This morning, thousands assembled in Tahrir, Etehadya and other revolutionary squares around the country while banners flooded downtown Cairo supporting Sisi and condemning terrorism. Rallies supporting the army marched toward designated squares as the military and the police stepped up their presence in anticipation of possible clashes between demonstrators and Morsi supporters. Anti-Morsi demonstrators made citizen's arrests of three armed men who are said to be Morsi supporters while trying to mingle with an anti-Morsi march from Mostafa Mahmoud Square heading to Tahrir and turned them in to the police. Clashes erupted in Alexandria between Morsi supporters and demonstrators where shot guns were used, though there were no reports of fatalities. With the media strongly mobilizing for today’s demonstrations, it is expected that the final turnout after iftar (Ramadan's fast-breaking meal) in support of Sisi’s call will be substantial. In a gesture to show national unity and solidarity, and which could lead to an even greater turnout, Egyptian Christians will be fasting today alongside their Muslim countrymen and for the first time in history, the Egyptian Coptic churches will ring their bells at sunset signaling breakfast time along with those of Al Maghreb Azan.

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