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Egypt protests, clashes ahead of Morsi trial

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Islamist supporters of Mohamed Morsi protested and clashed with police and opponents around Egypt on Friday, three days before the ousted president is to go on trial.

The most serious incident took place in the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria, where protesters clashed with police, who used tear gas against them, a security official said.

Sixty people were arrested there, and 10 others elsewhere.

In the Nile Delta city of Zaqaziq, five people were wounded when pro-Morsi protesters clashed with civilian opponents, the official MENA news agency reported.

In Cairo, hundreds of Islamists protested outside the main presidential palace as soldiers and police looked on, an AFP correspondent said.

And the interior ministry said police also fired tear gas against protesters in the city of Suez, while clashes were reported in Giza on the outskirts of the capital.

"We want the true democracy that Egypt had when Morsi was elected; what we see now is not true democracy," said Mohammed, a doctor, pointing at tanks and security personnel deployed outside the palace in Cairo.

The crowd chanted "Morsi, Morsi, we want you back!"

The doctor, carrying his four-year-old son on his shoulders, said: "We will protest peacefully on Monday also, but God only knows what will happen."

The interior ministry said some protesters from Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood "exceeded their limits of freedom of speech and peaceful" gatherings on Friday.

"They blocked roads and attacked residents," it said in a statement, adding that security forces had confiscated two shot guns in Alexandria.

Morsi, who has been held incommunicado since the military overthrew him on July 3, is to go on trial Monday on charges of inciting the murder of protesters outside the presidential palace in December 2012 and is to be tried along with 14 other defendants.

The interior ministry says 20,000 policemen will be deployed to guard the south Cairo police academy where the trial is to be held and to secure Morsi's transport to the makeshift court room.

The pro-Morsi coalition that has called the protests said it would hold a rally outside the court on Monday.

"The mass rally on Monday... should be outside the (Police Officers' Academy) building in Tora," said a statement from the Anti-Coup Coalition, which is led by the Brotherhood.

The Islamist have been battered by a police crackdown since Morsi's ouster. About 1,000 people have been killed in clashes and more than 2,000 arrested.

The arrest of Islamists has put much of their leadership in jail and restricted their ability to organise mass protests.

The Anti-Coup Coalition says it believes in peaceful protest, but it has not shied away from confronting the police.

On October 6, almost 60 people were killed in clashes when Islamists tried to march on Cairo's Tahrir Square as the military and its supporters commemorated the 1973 war with Israel.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/131101/egypt-protests-clashes-ahead-morsi-trial