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Egypt Military Backs Right To Protest

Egyptian military planes flew over Cairo on July 4.
Egypt’s military has pledged to guarantee the right to protest but warned against actions that could threaten national security.

The statement on Facebook was issued ahead of planned Islamist rallies after Friday Prayers to protest the army’s removal from office of Islamist-backed President Muhammad Morsi.

The planned protests have the slogan "Friday of Rejection."

Before the military statement was released, the military detained leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, the movement that backed Morsi.

The Muslim Brotherhood has denounced as a coup the removal of Morsi, who was Egypt’s first democratically elected president.

In another development, an Egyptian solider was reported to have been killed in an attack by suspected Islamist militants on the Sinai Peninsula.

Two other soldiers were reported injured in the attack early on July 5.

The attack was one of several on security forces targets around Rafah, on the border with the Gaza Strip.

It was not immediately clear whether the attacks were launched in reaction to Morsi’s removal from office.

In its statement, the military pledged not to take any "exceptional and autocratic measures against any political group.”

It said: "Peaceful protest and freedom of expression are rights guaranteed to everyone, which Egyptians have earned as one of the most important gains of their glorious revolution."

However, the statement added that "excessive use of this right without reason could carry some negative implications.” It warned against acts such as blocking roads, destroying institutions, and damaging the security and economy.

The United States, which provides $1.5 billion in annual civilian and military aid to Egypt, has called for a “quick and responsible” return to a democratically elected civilian government, and for authorities not to make “arbitrary” arrests.

Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr said he had told U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in a telephone conversation that the overthrow of Morsi had not amounted to a military coup.

Amr described Morsi’s ouster as based on the “overwhelming will of the people” following massive public protests against the president for failing to implement the ideals of the revolution that toppled former ruler Hosni Mubarak in early 2011.

Amr said Kerry had assured him that Egypt was a strategic ally of the United States whose stability was important.

He said Kerry had asked about human rights, and Amr said he had offered assurances that there would be no acts of vengeance against Morsi, who has been detained at an undisclosed location, or his Muslim Brotherhood followers.

The chief judge of the Supreme Constitutional Court, Adli Mansour, has been installed by the military as interim president. The military has backed a "road map" for new elections.

Based on reporting by AP, Reuters, and AFP
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