By Elizabeth Arrott from VOA News
CAIRO — A tense calm prevailed Monday in Cairo, as Egypt’s military-backed government vowed it would not tolerate anti-government demonstrations. But anger over the deaths of at least 36 protesters in custody threatened to spill over into renewed confrontation.
Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood is expressing outrage over the deaths of dozens of supporters held in police custody. The opposition accuses security forces of killing the men in cold blood. The Interior ministry acknowledges the deaths, but lays the blame on the prisoners. In one version of several conflicting official accounts, the men were trying to escape.
Video: 36 Dead in Prison Truck Escape Attempt
News of the deaths followed a vow by Armed Forces chief Abdel Fatah el-Sissi to continue to crack down on what he termed “terrorism” and “the destruction of the country.” It was his first public comment since security raids on anti-government protest camps killed hundreds of people Wednesday.
But el-Sissi also promised inclusion for Brotherhood supporters, saying there is “room for everyone” in the political process.
Cairo moved somewhat closer to normal Sunday, but security forces and tanks remain stationed in most districts, and some flashpoint areas are blocked off completely.
The cordons – and the presence of angry, anti-Brotherhood civilians – prompted the Islamists and the umbrella group the Anti-Coup Alliance to scale back protests Sunday.
The government has promised to rein in “popular committees” - everything from neighborhood watch groups to roving bands of vigilantes. But their actions keep the capital on edge, with gunfire heard throughout the night.
The violent crackdown on the protesters has prompted some European and American officials to consider reviewing aid to Egypt. But Saudi Arabia, the Egyptian military’s main regional backer, Sunday warned against such action. And Egyptian authorities attempted to pre-empt any hostile foreign moves, saying they would be looking at aid to see what wasn’t needed anyway.