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Amid crackdown, Egypt's protesters shift tactics

CAIRO — Reeling from a fierce security crackdown, the Muslim Brotherhood brought out mostly scattered, small crowds Friday in its latest protests of Egypt's military coup.

While the remnants of the Brotherhood's leadership are still able to exhibit coordination from underground, the arrests of thousands of its supporters and members — and the fear of more bloodshed — have weakened its ability to mobilize the streets.

The day's largest Cairo demonstration was more than 10,000 people outside the presidential palace, with thousands also taking part in a similarly sized rally outside the capital. However, the majority of protests around the country were smaller than in the past, consisting of several hundred protesters or fewer.

It was an intentional shift in tactics from a week ago, when the group failed to rally in a single location as a show of strength. Security officials dubbed it the butterfly plan — a flurry of protests to distract them.

Rather than have protests converge in one square and encounter force from police and angry residents, the group appeared to purposely plan hundreds of small marches as another way of continuing demonstrations and avoiding bloodshed, according to security officials who spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to media.

Envoy exits: U.S. Ambassador Anne Patterson left Egypt after a little more than two years at the post, the State Department said. She had come under criticism from both supporters and opponents of ousted President Mohammed Morsi. David Satterfield will be acting ambassador, taking a temporary leave from post as director-general of the Sinai peacekeeping force.

Supporters of Egypt’s ousted President Mohammed Morsi run from tear gas fired by police during a protest in Cairo on Friday. Tens of thousands of protesters rallied Friday in scattered small crowds designed to distract military security forces.

Associated Press

Supporters of Egypt’s ousted President Mohammed Morsi run from tear gas fired by police during a protest in Cairo on Friday. Tens of thousands of protesters rallied Friday in scattered small crowds designed to distract military security forces.

Amid crackdown, Egypt's protesters shift tactics 08/31/13 [Last modified: Saturday, August 31, 2013 3:05am]

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