The Egyptian people organized demonstrations in thirteen provinces on Wednesday to protest against army chief and Defense Minister Gen Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's call for mass Friday protests, demanding the return of ousted President Mohammed Morsi. The rallies saw clashes between protesters and security forces, which caused 43 injuries, 23 in the southern province of Dimyat, ten each in al-Menoufiya and al-Sharqia. Meanwhile, an army jet flew low for fifteen minutes over Rabaa al-Adawiya Square, home to anti-coup protests. Demonstrators responded by waving Egyptian flags and chanting slogans "God is Great" and "Morsi, Morsi". Earlier in the day, al-Sisi called on Egyptians to take to streets to reaffirm a mandate that would "authorize" him "to confront violence", drawing criticism from many groups in the country, including the Salafist Nur Party. "We reaffirm our outright rejection of any such mandate through crowds in the streets," the party said in a statement. Ahmet Badie, spokesman for the Salafist Watan Party, described Sisi's move as a "call for civil war". The International Union for Muslim Scholars, under the leadership of Sunni Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, an inspiration to Muslim Brotherhood, issued a statement saying it is prohibited in Islam to comply with a call that could lead to civil war within Egypt.
The Gamaa Islamiya told the Anadolu Agency the call for protests "is very dangerous and only deepens divisions in society.”
The Egyptian army defended the call, saying it was intended to confront, rather than commit, violence.
Ahmed Meslimani, spokesman for Egypt's army-supported interim presidency, welcomed Sisi's statement.
"Egypt has launched a war on terrorism," Meslimani said. "The call by General al-Sisi is for to protect the revolution and the state."
National Salvation Front also lent its backing to Sisi's call, saying it "will be met in numbers greater than those who protested on June 30."