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Islamists vilify army before Cairo rally

CAIRO — Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood sharply criticized the military on Thursday for ousting the country’s Islamist president, comparing its rule to that of Adolf Hitler and Roman emperor Nero, remarks likely to stoke tensions ahead of rival rallies by the army’s supporters and opponents.

The language was particularly sharp, even compared to other recent Brotherhood tirades, and was certain to further sour chances of political reconciliation with Egypt’s interim authorities, at least in the near future. The group has delivered a flurry of anti-military pronouncements in the three months since Mohammed Morsi, Egypt’s first freely elected president, was toppled in a popularly backed coup.

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Since Morsi’s July 3 ouster, the country’s military-backed government has moved against the Brotherhood, seizing its assets and arresting members and supporters.

The rival rallies on Sunday — both planned for Cairo’s central Tahrir Square — carry the potential for violent clashes between Morsi’s Islamist supporters and Egyptians who back the military.

The date is also a national holiday, marking the 40th anniversary of the start of the 1973 Middle East war in which Egyptian forces made initial gains against Israel. Most Egyptians revere the memory of that war as one of victory, a sentiment that leaves the Brotherhood in a negative light on account of its call for antimilitary rallies on its anniversary.

An umbrella of Islamist groups led by the Brotherhood issued a separate statement with calls for soldiers to mutiny against their commanders.

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