By Maggie Fick

CAIRO, Aug 30 (Reuters) - Thousands of supporters of ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi marched through Cairo and cities across Egypt on Friday to demand his reinstatement, in the movement's biggest show of defiance since hundreds of protesters were killed two weeks ago.

Although most marches passed without major incident, a security source said there had been at least six deaths, and police fired teargas at protesters in Cairo's Mohandiseen district.

The army-backed government, which has shot dead hundreds of supporters of Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood since he was toppled by the military on July 3, had warned that forces posted at key intersections since morning would open fire if protests turned violent.

Having arrested most of the Brotherhood's leaders, it hoped by now to have suffocated the protests against its decision to force out and crush the movement that ruled Egypt for a year.

But its prospects of presenting a return to normality looked to have been set back by live television pictures of teargas and burning tyres in Cairo, as well as the sheer number of separate marches that the well-organised Brotherhood managed to stage.

The security source said there had been at least 50 injured throughout Egypt, in addition to the six dead, and more than 20 arrests. The cabinet issued a statement after the protests saying that anyone who disregarded the curfew would face legal consequences.


SCATTERED PROTESTS

The demonstrators appeared mostly to have opted for numerous scattered protests, avoiding Cairo's bigger squares or the scenes of earlier protests such as the pro-Morsi street camps where security forces shot dead more than 600 people on Aug. 14.

Just after Friday prayers, around 500 protesters set off from central Cairo's Sahib Rumi mosque, chanting: "Wake up, don't be afraid, the army must leave", "The Interior Ministry are thugs" and "Egypt is Islamic, not secular".

By mid-afternoon, thousands were marching in districts across Cairo calling for the return of the elected government, and some remained outside the presidential palace in the capital until just before the 7 p.m. (1700 GMT) curfew.

Soldiers and helmeted police in black uniforms and bulletproof vests, armed with teargas and semi-automatic rifles, manned checkpoints near the protests and blocked roads.

In Egypt's second city, Alexandria, a total of more than 10,000 protesters took part in several separate demonstrations.

Marches were also held in several cities in the Nile Delta including Tanta, in the three Suez Canal cities of Suez, Ismailia and Port Said, and in the southern city of Assiut.

The Brotherhood's London press office circulated an email with links to video streams from what it said were protests in 15 districts of Cairo, as well as 32 in other towns and cities.

In the city of Fayoum, the private television channel CBC showed footage of a female Brotherhood supporter in a black head-to-toe veil, leading a march of veiled women and carrying a placard reading "Where did legitimacy go?".

"This revolutionary wave will not stop," Brotherhood politician Farid Ismail said by phone from an undisclosed location.

He said the numbers of those who had demonstrated despite "intimidation, teargas, live bullets and detentions" had been hugely underreported.

"This will continue in the coming weeks," he said.

Armed forces chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and the government he backs appear to have won broad public support for their crackdown, which they portray in the largely state-controlled or pro-government media as a fight against terrorism.


MILLIONS ALIENATED

The Brotherhood, which won five popular votes after the overthrow of the military-backed president Hosni Mubarak in 2011, and gave Egypt its first civilian president in Morsi, says it is still committed to peaceful resistance.

For decades Egypt's only effective opposition group, despite being officially banned, the Brotherhood seized on the anti-Mubarak uprising to win the presidency.

But millions were alienated by its ideologically driven rule and failure to revive the economy, and took to the streets, giving the army-backed establishment its cue to act with more venom than ever against a group it had repressed for decades.

From early morning, armoured vehicles fitted with machineguns guarded key points such as Tahrir Square, epicentre of the 2011 uprising, and Ramses Square, where more than 100 people, mostly Morsi supporters, were killed in protests two weeks ago. More than 100 members of the security forces have also been killed in the turmoil.

"Today's big turnout show the Brotherhood's ability to organise itself and proves its structure still stands," political analyst Mustapha Al-Sayyid said.

"This will pose a challenge on the authorities to end the protests and regain stability, or to decrease the curfew hours, which is the first step to bringing life back to normal."

The Egyptian-born Muslim cleric Sheikh Youssef al-Qaradawi earlier exhorted Egyptians to take to the streets.

"You Egyptians, go out, all of you, men, mothers, daughters even children. This is a religious duty on all Egyptians!" he said in a Friday sermon broadcast on Qatari state television.

The crackdown on Islamists has soured relations between Egypt and Qatar, a wealthy Gulf Arab state and U.S. ally that backed the Brotherhood and gave Egypt $7 billion during Morsi's administration. (Additional reporting by Cairo Arabic Desk, Yasmine Saleh, and by Sami Aboudi in Dubai; Writing by Kevin Liffey; Editing by Alison Williams)

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  • Supporters of Egypt's ousted President Mohammed Morsi hold posters showing victims of a military crackdown on their protest camp during a march in old Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Aug. 23, 2013. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

  • Supporters of Egypt's ousted President Mohammed Morsi raise their hands and four fingers, as a symbol of the recent massacre in Rabaah al-Adawiya mosque on Aug. 14, during a march in font of Amr Ibn Al-As mosque in old Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Aug. 23, 2013. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

  • Supporters of Egypt's ousted President Mohammed Morsi hold posters showing victims of a military crackdown on their protest camp during a march in old Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Aug. 23, 2013. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

  • An Egyptian walks between armored vehicles blocking Tahrir Square in, Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Aug. 23, 2013. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

  • Egyptian army soldiers in armored vehicles block Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt, during mass protests Friday, Aug. 23, 2013. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

  • A supporter of Egypt's deposed autocrat Hosni Mubarak holds a poster of him and chants slogans in front of Tora prison, where Mubarak has been held, in Cairo, Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

  • Egyptian army soldiers guard Tora prison, where Egypt's deposed autocrat Hosni Mubarak has been held, in Cairo, Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

  • Egyptian army soldiers guard Tora prison, where Egypt's deposed autocrat Hosni Mubarak is held, in Cairo, Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

  • A supporter of Egypt's deposed autocrat Hosni Mubarak ululates in front of Tora prison where he is held, in Cairo, Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

  • An Egyptian soldier stands guard as a helicopter carrying former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, 85, lands at Maadi Military Hospital from Tora Prison in, Cairo, Egypt, Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

  • An Egyptian youth wearing a mask of Hosni Mubarak steps on a comrade covered with a fake blood-stained shroud while performing during a protest against the release of former Egypt's dictator in Qasr Al-Nil bridge, in downtown Cairo, Egypt, Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013. (AP Photo/Manu Brabo)

  • Egyptian protesters dressed with fake blood on their shrouds while they perform during a protest against the release of former Egypt's dictator Hosni Mubarak in Cairo, Egypt, Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013. (AP Photo/Manu Brabo)

  • Supporters of Egypt's former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak hold his posters and a poster of Egyptian Army Chief Lt. Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, left, in front of Torah prison where he has been held, in Cairo, Egypt, Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

  • Supporters of Egypt's deposed autocrat Hosni Mubarak hold a poster of him and chant slogans in front of Torah Prison where he has been held, in Cairo, Egypt, Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

  • Khadija el-Shater, ther daughter of Muslim Brotherhood deputy leader Khairat el-Shater, talks to the media in front of Torah Prison in Cairo, Egypt, Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)