Muslim Brotherhood focusing ire on Egypt's January referendum on new constitution
The new constitution would ban religious parties and put more power in the military's hands
Members of the Islamist group have protested often since Mohamed Morsy's ouster in July
The Brotherhood wants Morsy back in power
Five people were killed and scores of others were injured across Egypt on Friday as demonstrators supporting the Muslim Brotherhood clashed with police, the semiofficial Ahram Online news outlet reported.
The demonstrations are just the latest by the Islamist group, which has regularly protested Egypt’s interim government since the Brotherhood-backed President Mohamed Morsy was ousted in a coup in July.
The Muslim Brotherhood also has focused its ire on Egypt’s January 14-15 referendum on a new constitution that would ban religious parties and put more power in the hands of the military.
At least some of those who died Friday were protesters, Ahram Online reported. The outlet didn’t say who caused the deaths.
One protester was killed in Cairo’s Nasr City district, where demonstrators threw rocks and fireworks at police, who responded by firing tear gas, according to Ahram Online.
Two protesters were fatally shot in clashes in the northern Egyptian city of Ismailia, about 125 kilometers (78 miles) northeast of the capital, Cairo, Ahram Online reported.
One person was killed in Fayoum, southwest of Cairo, and another was killed in Alexandria, the news outlet reported.
In Alexandria – Egypt’s second-largest city, 175 kilometers (109 miles) northwest of Cairo – police intervened after Muslim Brotherhood supporters clashed with civilian opponents, Ahram Online reported.
The deaths come two days after the country’s Interior Ministry said at least two demonstrators were killed in Wednesday clashes with security forces in Alexandria.
Muslim Brotherhood members have continued their protests even though the government declared the group a terrorist organization last month. The government has threatened to arrest anyone who attends Muslim Brotherhood protests or provides financial support to the organization.
Supporters of the organization demand the reinstatement of Morsy, who became the country’s first democratically elected president in 2012, and the full restoration of their political and social rights. The interim government blames the group for a series of coordinated attacks, including a recent bombing on a police headquarters that left 16 dead and more than 100 injured.
The military ousted Morsy on July 3 after he was accused of pursuing an Islamist agenda and excluding other factions from the government.
Morsy’s supporters say that the deposed president wasn’t given a fair chance and that the military has returned to the authoritarian practices of longtime ruler Hosni Mubarak, who was deposed in a popular uprising in 2011.
On the Muslim Brotherhood’s website, a Brotherhood-supported group called for “million-man” marches against the government Friday and next Wednesday, the day that a trial against Morsy is expected to resume.
In that trial, Morsy and others face charges stemming from December 2012 protests over a constitution he shepherded into effect. Egyptian authorities have accused Morsy and his staff of ordering supporters to attack protesters after guards and members of the Interior Ministry refused to do it.
Morsy and four others are charged with inciting violence, but they are not accused of using force. Eleven others are charged with killing three men, torturing 54 people, using force and possessing weapons.
Morsy says he doesn’t recognize the court’s authority, claiming he still is Egypt’s legitimate president.
Last month, Morsy and 35 other members of the Muslim Brotherhood also were ordered to stand trial on accusations of collaborating with foreign organizations to commit terrorist acts and revealing defense secrets, according to the semiofficial al-Ahram newspaper.
In that case, Morsy is accused of spying for the Palestinian group Hamas, which the United States classifies as a terrorist organization, and assisting in acts of terror inside Egypt, judicial sources told al-Ahram.
Additionally, Morsy will face trial on suspicion of escaping from prison in 2011, state media reported.
CNN’s Jason Hanna contributed to this report.