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Islamic clerics, organizers call for massive demonstrations

Special to World
Friday, March 21, 2003

CAIRO Arab nations are bracing for a wave of violent anti-U.S. protests over the weekend.

The protests are expected to erupt after Friday prayers in mosques around the Middle East. Clerics as well as Islamic organizers have called for massive demonstrations against the U.S.-led war in Iraq.

Authorities in virtually every Middle East country, except for Iraq, have bolstered security around U.S. installations. Many of them plan to increase police and security forces in the streets of Arab capitals.

Egypt and Jordan are expected to be the focus of anti-U.S. protests. On Thursday, Egyptian demonstrators clashed with police as they tried to storm the U.S. embassy in Cairo. Police used water cannons to stop stone-throwers from reaching the embassy in a demonstration believed organized by the banned Muslim Brotherhood.

The Brotherhood members chanted slogans against the regime of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. They included "Leave, leave Mubarak" and "Down with Arab leaders."

At one point, Egyptian students rampaged through downtown Cairo, banging on cars and calling for revolution. Riot police used batons to beat back many of the demonstrators.

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