NEW: Fireworks go off, people cheer military at anti-Morsy rallies
NEW: Some Morsy supporters seemingly injured at nearby rally
NEW: Military, police come under attack in Sinai, resident says
A judge order ex-leader Morsy jailed 15 days for alleged Hamas collaboration
Massive, rival rallies in and around Cairo ran into the wee hours of Saturday, with one group celebrating the ouster and jailing of once Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy and others angrily demanding the democratically elected leader’s return.
These demonstrations around the capital – and in fact all around the tumultuous nation – showed the raw emotion and deep divisions tied to Morsy, political battles that have rocked a country already dealing with major economic and other challenges.
The mass events occasionally have turned violent in recent weeks, either with clashes between competing factions or between protesters and security forces.
It happened Friday as well, when five people were killed and 72 injured in the port city of Alexandria, the state-run Middle East News Agency reported, citing security sources.
Scores of seemingly injured protesters also rushed late Friday around Nasr City, an area not far from central Cairo where Morsy backers were staging a large rally, according to a CNN crew at the scene.
As the effects of tear gas wafted through the air, witnesses reported that some had been hurt in clashes with security forces around the 6th of October bridge over the Nile River.
A very different scene played out not far across that bridge in Tahrir Square, which was the hub of the popular movement that led to the military’s ouster of another president – Hosni Mubark, who’d ruled Egypt for nearly three decades – in early 2011.
There, again and again, fireworks lit up the nighttime sky. Those gathered below, opposed to Morsy, cheered military helicopters that flew by, sometimes dropping leaflets and Egyptian flags.
Morsy, and how he’d steered Egypt’s government, was foremost on the minds of people on both sides of the fight.
The former Muslim Brotherhood leader became Egypt’s first democratically president in June 2012, but found himself at odds with the opposition before the military removed him from power, and held him, early this month.
On Friday, Morsy found himself under fire again – not for actions he took as president, but before then.
Because of these allegations, a judge ordered the former president jailed for 15 days, according to state media.
Morsy a victim of Egypt’s revolution of the mind
Prosecutor: Morsy collaborated with Hamas
Immediately after the coup, a prosecutor opened an investigation into claims Morsy and top leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood – the Islamist group that was banned under Mubarak but became Egypt’s most powerful political force after his fall – had incited violence and the killing of protesters.
The charges revealed Friday, though, stem from a jailbreak from Wadi-Natroun prison in the days after Egypt’s 2011 revolution.
Nineteen Brotherhood members, including Morsy, are accused of having escaped, state-run EGYNews reported.
The prosecutors who ordered the probe two weeks ago said the escape was plotted by “foreign elements” including Hamas, its military wing, the Islamic Palestinian Army and Hezbollah. The Muslim Brotherhood was named as a domestic group that cooperated with those who broke them out of prison.
Morsy will be questioned about whether he collaborated with Hamas about the prison break and about attacks on police stations, the government-run Ahram Online reported.
He is accused of not merely escaping, but destroying the prison’s official records as well as intentionally killing and abducting police officers and prisoners.
Local media reports at the time stated that Morsy was in prison for a single day.
According to the Al-Masri Al-Youm newspaper, Morsy was among 500 members of the Muslim Brotherhood who were arrested after planning to join anti-Mubarak demonstrations. Allegedly, there were no formal charges against them.
The same newspaper wrote about the jailbreak that happened the next day. It quoted a Brotherhood leader saying that they didn’t escape from prison, but were freed by family members after the warden and guards fled as the revolution unfolded.
Political divisions run deep in volatile country
The military has not commented on Morsy’s whereabouts. When he was first detained, a Brotherhood spokesman told CNN that the deposed leader was initially under house arrest at the presidential Republican Guard headquarters in Cairo and later moved to the Defense Ministry.
He’s not the first of his allies jailed since the coup. So, too, have eight leading members of the Freedom and Justice Party – the Brotherhood’s political arm – arrests that party officials have decried as illegal and politically motivated.
Human rights organizations have offered similar views. And U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is among the world leaders who have called for Morsy and other detained leaders to be immediately released “or (to) have their cases reviewed transparently without delay.”
This political standoff comes as Egypt deals with a long struggling economy and additional security challenges.
In the volatile region of Sinai, for instance, armed men attacked a military checkpoint and police station in the town of Sheikh Zweid, resident Ahmed Abu Eita said. At least one armored military vehicle was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade, he said.
“We can’t leave home … We don’t know who is firing at who,” Eita said. “The ambulances can’t even move to get the injured.”
He and others said the upheaval in Cairo has hurt efforts to fight terrorism and bring peace to his region, where violence has long been a problem and has increased since Morsy’s ouster.
Egypt seemingly has been teetering for years, and there has been little indication of late those festering tensions will calm anytime soon.
Speaking on CNN, Muslim Brotherhood spokeswoman Mona al Qazzaz accused the military and opposition of, together, “killing the biggest democracy in the Middle East.”
“The military stepped in, and the opposition that failed to win through the ballot boxes came on the back of the tanks,” she said.
Yet opposition activists, such as June 30 Front spokesman Ahmed Hawary, said Morsy left the military little choice but to intervene. Yes, he was democratically elected, but he didn’t give those opposed to him any way to check and challenge what he was doing, according to Hawary.
“Democracy is due political process,” he told CNN. “But there has never been a due political process (under Morsy).”
U.S. opts not to define Egypt ouster as a coup; tensions rise ahead of planned protests
CNN’s Ben Wedeman and Reza Sayah reported from Cairo; CNN’s Greg Botelho wrote this story from Atlanta. CNN’s Mohammed Tawfeeq, Hamdi Alkhshali, Ali Younes and journalist Sarah Sirgany contributed to this report.