Defaint supporters of Egypt's deposed president Mohammed Morsi of Friday staged defiant protest rallies against his removal, with police firing teargas at demonstrators, amidst raising fears of renewed violence as the interim government authorised police to disperse them.
Clashes erupted as police tried to disperse demonstrators approaching a media complex, where most privately-owned Egyptian channels are based, to protest what they described as media bias. The protesters chanted against media figures as well as against the police and army.
Egypt's interim cabinet mandated the country's police force on Wednesday to disperse two pro-Morsi camps, which have each been in place for a month.
The Interior Ministry on Thursday asked the protesters to close the camps on their own accord and promised that any Morsi supporter who left before the police operation would be given "safe passage".
"The interior ministry calls on those in the squares of Rabaa al-Adawiya and Nahda to listen to the sound of reason, side with the national interest and quickly leave," interior ministry spokesman Hany Abdel-Latif said in a televised statement.
"Whoever responds to this call will have a safe passage and protection," he added.
But a spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood said they could not take the government's promise seriously, given the continuing crackdown against the Islamist grouping, many of whose members have been arrested since Morsi's removal by the Army on July 3.
"I don't believe anyone involved in the military coup," said Mohamed Soudan, a senior official from the Brotherhood's political wing, the Freedom and Justice party.
Pressing ahead with their demands of Morsi's reinstatement as president, protesters staged a demonstration in front of Egypt's High Constitutional Court (HCC) building, near Cairo's Maadi district, Thursday night.
Morsi was deposed by the military following mass protests against him. The country's top judge Adly Mansour was appointed as interim president in a transitional period that would see parliamentary elections and early presidential elections.
For weeks, Morsi's supporters have been occupying two squares in Cairo to protest his ouster. They have vowed to remain until the former president is released from military detention and reinstated.
The Muslim Brotherhood's daily said that protesters will not be intimidated by the cabinet's statement stressing that the sit-ins are peaceful.
According to a security source: "There will be inevitable clashes between the Muslim Brotherhood [MB] and security forces in the coming few days."
The sit-ins have become flash points for the bloodiest confrontations since Morsi's ouster.
On Thursday, Egypt's interim cabinet said the sit-ins were disruptive and represented "a threat to the Egyptian national security and an unacceptable terrorising of citizens" and ordered the security forces to end them.
The authorities have portrayed the sit-ins as hotbeds of "terrorism," a term they use loosely to describe their opponents.