(Photo: Reuters/Mohamed Abd El Ghany)
Renewed fears of large-scale violence in Egypt for today's second anniversary of the uprising that helped oust long-time dictator Hosni Mubarak were realized when Egyptian security forces fired tear gas and protesters threw stones and Molotov cocktails during a day-long demonstration Thursday. Christian leaders inside and outside the country are calling for prayers.
Prominent politicians, writers and society figures have been urging Egyptians to go back to the streets to demonstrate rejection of the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists, according to Open Doors USA sources inside Egypt.
A Christian leader, who regularly blogs from Egypt and remains anonymous for security reasons, says he sees "a split nation overflowing with too much frustration and anger, with hardly any positive or promising political or social development. The economy is a disaster, with our local currency's value diving deep down into the unknown."
The blogger adds that this spirit of frustration and anger "provides good soil for a major clash this Friday (today). Words are spreading around about a second revolution, another eruption of anger, but this time it is directed against the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists, who have taken a strong hand on the reins of the Egyptian nation, acting as if they alone live in the country."
Reports of planned organized protests in many of Egypt's main cities are being circulated on the Internet and through satellite news programs. Youth activists and opposition groups have called for large rallies in Cairo's Tahrir Square and in front of the president palace in the upscale suburb, Heliopolis, The Associated Press reported.
Protests on Thursday began before dawn in central Cairo when demonstrators attempted to tear down a concrete wall surrounding the parliament and the Cabinet building. Dozens were injured in the street clashes which continued after darkness fell, AP reported.
President Mohammed Morsi urged Egyptians on Thursday to mark the anniversary peacefully.
"I call upon Egyptians to celebrate the revolution ... with civilization and peacefully to preserve our nation, our institution, our souls, our streets and our sons," he told a gathering in a speech meant to mark the birthday of Muslim Prophet Muhammad. "We have to feel that we are all in one ship and we have to preserve its safety and respect the people and their free will which they express in their ballot boxes," he added.
The Christian blogger wrote that there are several possible scenarios for Friday. "The worst of which could be severe confrontations and clashes between the Islamic state and civil state supporters. The shadows of violence and turmoil are showing up again all over the scene in Egypt, leaving us with many concerns and anxieties. What might or could happen? How will things develop on Friday and on after that in our country?
"May the Lord have mercy on us and save Egypt from every evil. Please join us in prayer."
The U.S. Embassy in Cairo urges its citizens in Egypt to avoid areas where protesters will likely gather on Friday, including Cairo's Tahrir Square.
Egypt is ranked No. 25 on the Open Doors 2013 World Watch List of the worst persecutors of Christians (www.worldwatchlist.us).