CAIRO - Egypt's religious authorities called on unions and youth groups to scrap plans for a wave of strikes aimed at forcing the ruling generals from power, saying the people must show duty to the nation and spare its tattered economy fresh damage.
The first strike planned from Saturday - the anniversary of Hosni Mubarak's overthrow - would close universities and factories, cancel trains and slash public services.
Analysts say Egypt is in desperate need of foreign support to avert a financial crisis caused by a year of economic and political turmoil. Investment and tourism have shriveled, unemployment has grown and foreign reserves are at danger level.
"I appeal to you... not to disrupt work even for one hour and commit yourselves to meet your duties toward yourselves, your families and your country," Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayib, Grand Imam of Egypt's highest Islamic authority al-Azhar, said in a message to the nation of 80 million people.
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