Members of the Muslim Brotherhood shout sloga
Members of the Muslim Brotherhood shout slogaReuters

Egyptian authorities are bracing for potential violence on Friday, following calls by Islamists for nationwide protests against the government, Al Arabiya reports.

Islamists have called on their followers to carry copies of the Quran, during the protests. The tactic is seen as a way to portray potential attacks by security forces as attacks against Islam and its sacred text, the reported noted.

The Interior Ministry, however, was unfazed by the calls and said it has prepared special security units to deal with such new kind of protests.

The ministry also announced that it broke up a “terrorist” cell associated with the Muslim Brotherhood that was planning to spread nationwide unrest on Friday.

It said the group members were planning to disguise in military uniforms for conducting terror operations.

The Islamists’ call for nationwide rallies Friday is the first attempt in months to hold large protests in the face of an overwhelming crackdown. It remains uncertain whether they will succeed in pulling large numbers into the streets.

Security forces deployed in Cairo’s central Tahrir Square on Thursday evening. Many Egyptians say they are canceling social gatherings, avoiding public transportation and remaining home Friday, fearing that bombings or other attacks could take place, according to The Associated Press(AP).

Since the military ousted Muslim Brotherhood President Mohammed Morsi in July of 2013, Islamists have been repeatedly causing unrest in the country.

The authorities that replaced him have responded with a crackdown on Islamists. Thousands of Morsi’s supporters have been killed and arrested and the Muslim Brotherhood was declared a terrorist organization.

Death sentences on 528 supporters of President Morsi were handed down at a mass trial in March.

In April, another 683 supporters of Morsi, including leading members of his Muslim Brotherhood, were sentenced to death as well.

This week, a court in Egypt sentenced 78 youth to up to five years in prison for protesting with the Muslim Brotherhood. The boys, from 13 to 17 years old, were charged with joining rallies calling for Morsi’s return.

A bloody Friday in Egypt in October, which resulted in the deaths of dozens of soldiers in a terrorist attack in the Sinai, prompted Egyptian authorities to create a buffer zone along the border with Gaza, whose Hamas terrorist rulers have been accused by Egypt of assisting Sinai terrorists.