World Bulletin/News Desk
Backers of Egypt's ousted President Mohamed Morsi are converging on Cairo from several provinces to take part in protests marking the anniversary of the 1973 victory over the Israeli army.
The National Alliance for the Defense of Legitimacy, Morsi's main support block, on Saturday called on Morsi's loyalists to head to Tahrir Square in the center of Cairo to protest against what they describe as the "military coup" against the ousted leader.
However, military-backed authorities have already occupied the iconic square due to "the ceremonies scheduled to take place on the occasion of the anniversary of the October 6 War."
Anadolu Agency correspondent reported that Morsi's backers avoided to travel to Cairo in large groups, but rather travelled separately or in small groups to evade the security measures on the entry points to the capital.
A group of supporters of the ousted president has already set out from the Nile Delta province of Menoufiya on their way to Cairo. Muslim Brotherhood sources told AA that they would organize protests in the province as well.
Another group of Morsi supporters has left from Beni Sueif, south of Cairo.
"We have information that the authorities will prevent us from reaching Cairo, but we are determined to get there," a Muslim Brotherhood leader from the canal province of Suez, northeast of Cairo, told AA.
Egyptians, raising the national flag and holding photos of army chief Gen. Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, made their presence strongly felt at the entrances of the square, the iconic center of the 2011 revolution that toppled former president Hosni Mubarak and a boiling point of anger against president Mohamed Morsi, who was unseated by the army on July 3.
"This is a glorious day," Um Hassan, a 61-year-old woman who came to Tahrir to be part of the gala celebration, told Anadolu Agency.
"We must all celebrate this day on which our army had managed to restore our occupied land."
People played patriotic songs and repeated after the singers in joy, while others kept coming in, portending a major crowd on the square.
The army has invited Egyptians to descend on Tahrir Square and in other major squares countrywide to celebrate the 1973 victory over Israel and the liberation of the Sinai Peninsula, which was captured by Israel in 1967.
The lobby group Tamarod (Rebellion), which had spearheaded a popular campaign to demand the removal of Morsi, also urged followers to mark October 6.
"The unity of the people and the army was central to the victory," Mohamed Abdel-Aziz, one of the group's leaders, told a press conference on Saturday.
"Forty years after the victory, Egyptians find themselves in almost the same situation."
Until 10:00 a.m. local time Egyptian military and policemen had barred any one from entering Tahrir Square, using barbed wire and armored vehicles to keep people away.
The army has placed several metal detectors at the entrances as part of the measures taken to secure the event.
At one entrance to the square, groups of vigilantes wearing lemon-yellow vests stood to search people to make sure that they did not have weapons.
"Our hope is for the day to be violence-free," Essam Ahmed, the leader of one vigilante group, told AA.
Pro-democracy groups are planning marches and mass protests on Sunday against Morsi's ouster and to mark the October victory.
The Youth against the Military Coup movement has announced plans to converge on Tahrir Square for the same reason.
This increased fears that violence can make the day if the two rival camps clash either near Tahrir Square or other parts across the country.
"This is our country and we are ready to do anything to protect it against saboteurs," said Ahmed, the vigilante.
Overhead, fighter jets roared in the sky, in a two-fold message to supporters and opponents.
Armored vehicles and army tanks were deployed on almost every major street in Cairo, while policemen were seen in different places sticking to their guns and wearing their bulletproof vests.Last Mod: 06 Ekim 2013, 15:04