CAIRO -- Thousands of supporters of ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi turned out Saturday for a mass protest and funeral for those killed a day earlier in clashes with soldiers.
Crowds gathered outside Rabaa Al Adawiya mosque heard fiery speeches from Islamist leaders and carried four coffins of those killed, but the demonstrations in Cairo’s Nasr district remained peaceful.
They waved Egyptian flags and carried pictures of Morsi, who is believed to be under arrest in the Republican Guard compound where some of Friday’s clashes occurred.
“Down with military rule,’’ some chanted. “To those of you remaining quiet, have you received your rights?’’ others asked.
After appearing initially stunned and paralyzed by Morsi’s toppling by the military, the Muslim Brotherhood has slowly built momentum and is drawing its supporters into the streets to demand Morsi’s return to the presidency.
In contrast to the scene in the Islamic organization's stronghold, demonstrations Saturday in Tahrir Square, the base of anti-Morsi protesters, were relatively small compared with recent days.
Security around the capital was tighter following Friday’s clashes, which killed at least 36 people.
Heightening fears about sectarian violence, a Coptic Christian priest in the northern Sinai was shot to death in the coastal city of El Arish, Egyptian media reported.
The attack was believed to have been carried out by Islamist militants operating in the restive Sinai region.
Motives behind the attack were unclear, but some feared it was linked to Morsi’s ouster. His removal was publicly endorsed by Coptic Pope Tawadros II, the spiritual leader of Egypt’s besieged Christian community and a frequent Morsi critic.
Attacks against Christians have risen following the February 2011 overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak.