Tense Egypt braces for rival demos on war anniversary

Tense Egypt braces for rival demos on war anniversary

CAIRO - Egypt on Sunday braced for rival demonstrations called by supporters and opponents of deposed Islamist president Mohamed Morsi as it marks the 40th anniversary of the 1973 Arab-Israeli war.

Security forces and vehicles were deployed around the main squares of the country, where protesters were expected to turn out in a show of support for the army that ousted Morsi in July.

People, carrying pictures of army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, trickled into Cairo's Tahrir Square, the symbolic heart of Egypt's 2011 uprising, as military jets in formation flew overhead.

For weeks authorities have been drumming up patriotic fervour in state media, amid the worst political divisions Egypt has seen in recent history.

Supporters of Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood have called their own rival demonstrations, sparking fears of fresh unrest after months of violence and political turmoil.

Morsi's opponents had taken to the streets in their millions in June to call on the military to remove the Islamist leader, who was accused of failing the revolution that brought him to the presidency and concentrating power in the hands of his Islamist allies.

His supporters decried his overthrow - a year after he was elected in the country's first free elections - as a violation of democratic principles.

Cairo's streets were largely deserted on Sunday, a public holiday to commemorate the October war, known as the Yom Kippur war in Israel, remembered proudly by the Egyptian army because it caught Israel by surprise. The war ultimately led to the recovery of the Sinai Peninsula in a 1979 peace treaty.

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