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Morsy follows through with his threat, issues arrests warrants for 5 activists

| Monday, March 25, 2013, 8:36 p.m.

CAIRO — After Egypt's Islamist president vowed action against opponents, the nation's top prosecutor on Monday issued arrest warrants against five prominent activists over clashes between the Muslim Brotherhood and protesters.

The warrants heightened the latest in a series of crises plaguing this nation of about 90 million since the ouster of autocrat Hosni Mubarak's ouster.

Rights activists and the opposition warned the warrants could mark the opening of an intimidation campaign against their ranks by President Mohamed Morsy and the Brotherhood, through the prosecutor. They accused the prosecutor — handpicked by Morsy late last year — saying he has ignored Morsy supporters' violence against protesters and moved quickly against opposition figures.

“We are extremely worried,” said Khaled Dawoud, a spokesman for the main opposition coalition, the National Salvation Front. “We feel threatened, and we expect the worst,” he said.

Egypt's ongoing tug of war pits Morsy, a Brotherhood veteran, and his Islamist allies in one camp against a mostly secular and liberal opposition backed by moderate Muslims, minority Christians and a large segment of women in the other.

The opposition charges that Morsy and the Brotherhood failed to tackle any of the nation's most pressing problems and are trying to monopolize power. Morsy blames the country's woes on nearly three decades of corruption under his predecessor, Hosni Mubarak, and accuses the opposition of stoking unrest.

Clashes on Friday outside the Brotherhood's headquarters were the worst in more than three months.

The violence was rooted in an incident a week earlier, when Brotherhood members slapped a woman to the ground and beat up other activists who were spray-painting graffiti against the group outside its headquarters, in an eastern district of Cairo. Several reporters at the scene were attacked, and the Brotherhood said they were part of the protest.

In response, anti-Brotherhood activists called for a protest there Friday to “restore dignity.” Both sides brought out hundreds of supporters.

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