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Muslim Brotherhood gears up for Egypt rallies

| Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013, 9:51 p.m.

CAIRO — The Muslim Brotherhood ramped up its calls on Thursday for nationwide protests against Egypt's military-backed government, while an Islamist ally of the ousted president spoke of an attempt to broker a deal before the “ship of the nation sinks.”

The Brotherhood's call for mass protests and sit-ins on Friday will test how much the fierce security crackdown has crippled the Islamist group and if it can still mobilize its base in the face of widespread public anger against it.

Egypt's security forces have increased their presence in the streets ahead of the planned demonstrations and accused the group of using rallies to produce chaos. Authorities continued to hunt down wanted leaders, arresting two top Brotherhood figures.

Some fear the protests could tailspin into another bout of violence.

Bloodshed peaked two weeks ago when police, backed by snipers and bulldozers, attacked two Brotherhood-led sit-ins in the capital protesting the popularly supported July 3 military ouster of President Mohamed Morsy, a longtime leader in the group.

The move sparked days of nationwide violence that killed more than 1,000 people, most of them Morsy's supporters. Many retaliated by attacking police stations, torching churches and setting government buildings on fire.

A leader of the Gamaa Islamiya ex-militant group, Abboud el-Zommor, urged both Muslim Brotherhood and military to make “concessions” and acknowledged that both are responsible for the bloodshed.

“There were miscalculations,” he said about the Brotherhood alliance refusing to disband the sit-in before state crackdown. “I knew there would be losses of many lives, and I wanted to find a political exit.

Gamaa Islamiya is one of two former militant groups that have offered an initiative to halt the country's political violence.

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