Three killed as Islamists protest in Cairo

Egyptian plain-clothes policemen detain a man during clashes in Cairo's working class district of Matariya between Islamist protestors and police on November 28. The army and police had fanned out across Cairo and other cities in anticipation of rallies called by an Islamist group that opposes the military's overthrow of president Mohamed Morsi last year.

Story highlights

  • Friday's violence came during protests led by an Islamist group
  • The group called for massive demonstrations against the government
  • But the protests were limited to the neighborhoods that already see weekly demonstrations
Three people were killed, 20 others were injured and dozens were arrested during limited anti-government protests calling for the preservation of Egypt's Islamic identity Friday, a Health Ministry spokesman told CNN.
One civilian was killed in a protest in the eastern Cairo neighborhood of Matarya, and a military officer and a soldier were gunned down nearby, Health Ministry spokesman Hossam Abdel-Ghaffar said. Further details about the deaths, including who killed the three, weren't immediately available.
The Islamist and ultraconservative Salafi Front, which objects to the military's July 2013 ouster of President Mohamed Morsy, had called for large-scale protests around the country, asking people to carry the Quran and chant against military rule.
Despite Friday's violence, large-scale demonstrations failed to materialize in Cairo, with the army out in large numbers to protect public buildings.
More than 100 people were arrested, and security forces defused at least eight bombs, the Interior Ministry said.
A bomb exploded in Abdel-Moneim Riyad Square in downtown Cairo, near Tahrir Square, witnesses told the state-run Al-Ahram news website. No damage or casualties from the explosion were reported.
Violence was reported elsewhere in the country Friday. A navy officer was injured in a shooting in Alexandria, local media reported.
In the North Sinai province, where Islamist insurgents have battled security forces in recent weeks, assailants lobbed a bomb at an army vehicle in the city of Al-Arish, injuring six army personnel, Al-Ahram reported.
In Cairo, the Salafi Front's bid to appeal to a larger segment of citizens seemed to have fizzled. Protests were limited to the neighborhoods that already see weekly, largely Islamist demonstrations.
The group posted pictures on its social media platforms of marches taking place in rural provinces, mainly in Egypt's Delta.
Before Friday, many Islamist and secular movements declined to participate. One major Islamist political player, the Salafi Call and its political arm, Al-Nour Party, actively campaigned against Friday's protests.
In anticipation of a possible low turnout, the Front said that Friday would only be the first step of what it called a revolutionary wave.
Egypt's rulers long suppressed Islamist movements, including the Muslim Brotherhood, until 2011, when protests led to strongman Hosni Mubarak's ouster. Newly unfettered, Muslim Brotherhood members ran for office and Morsy, backed by the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, became Egypt's first democratically elected president in June 2012.
But Morsy was ousted in a coup about a year later amid widespread protests against his rule, with opponents accusing him of pursuing an Islamist agenda and excluding other factions from the government.
Since then, Cairo's military-installed government has banned the Brotherhood, branding it a terrorist group -- an allegation it denies -- and accusing it of being behind a wave of deadly attacks on police and the military.
Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the general who led Morsy's ouster, was elected President in May after leaving the military to run for the office. Brotherhood supporters say the government that replaced Morsy has returned to Mubarak's authoritarian practices.