Egypt orders to ‘put an end’ to Muslim Brotherhood vigils
Thousands of supporters of the Islamist Mohamed Mursi and his Muslim Brotherhood have been staging sit-ins at two locations in the Egyptian capital for the past month, protesting against his overthrow by the Army on July 03.
The Brotherhood says its supporters will stay put until Mursi is reinstated. At least 80 of them were shot dead by security forces at dawn on Saturday in the second mass killing of Mursi supporters since his overthrow.
Wednesday’s statement by the Cabinet raised the spectre of yet more bloodshed.
In a televised statement, an interim Cabinet installed by the military said the “terrorist acts" and traffic disruption stemming from the protests were no longer acceptable and “represent a threat to Egyptian national security".
“The Cabinet decided to begin taking all necessary measures to address these dangers and put an end to them, commissioning the interior minister to do all that is necessary regarding this matter within the framework of the Constitution and the law," it said.
Minutes before the statement, authorities said they had referred the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohammed Badie, and two other senior movement officials to a court on charges of inciting violence.
Tamarod wants Muslim Brotherhood listed as terrorist organization
CAIRO, July 31 (UPI) — The Egyptian Tamarod movement that led protests against ousted President Mohamed Morsi wants his Muslim Brotherhood to be listed as a terrorist organization.
The movement called on the United States to give that label to the Muslim Brotherhood and said the Hamas military wing in the Gaza Strip, which is listed as a terror organization, is a brotherhood offshoot, Israel Radio reported Wednesday.
Tamarod said 120,000 people have signed a petition calling on the U.S. government to blacklist the Muslim Brotherhood.
In another development, Tamarod spokesman Mahmoud Badr said the movement hopes Egypt’s interim government will formulate an entirely new constitution rather than amend the existing one drawn up by Morsi, who was ousted July 3, Masry al-Youm reported.
“We want a civilian, democratic constitution that … upholds equal opportunity and does not differentiate between Egyptians on the basis of religion or race," Badr said.
Egypt unrest: Leaders plan strike against Muslim Brotherhood as Cairo protest branded a threat to national security
Almost 300 people have been killed in weeks of violence since the army deposed the former president
Egyptian authorities gave the strongest indication yet that security forces were preparing a strike against the Muslim Brotherhood – announcing in a televised statement that the group’s month-long Cairo sit-in was a threat to ‘national security’ and would soon be ended.
The statement, which was issued by the country’s interim cabinet, prompted fears that of another deadly confrontation between authorities and Muslim Brotherhood supporters.
The move against the sit-in protest came as it emerged that Egypt’s prosecutors have referred three of the Brotherhood’s most senior figures for trial.
They include the group’s revered Supreme Guide, Mohamed Badie, along with his deputy Khairat al-Shater and senior leader Rashad Bayoumi. All three are wanted for charges related to inciting violence.
At least 300 people have been killed in nationwide clashes since the June 30 – the date the former president Mohamed Morsi was toppled by an army-led coup. The dead include scores of Islamists who have been gunned down during two separate massacres within the space of three weeks – more than 80 of whom were killed on Sunday when police tried to disperse the sit-in at Rabaa.
The developments raised fears that an anti-Islamist crackdown – which has been anticipated by many since an ominous speech by General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Egypt’s top military commander public face of the coup, last week – is now imminent.
During its televised address, the interim cabinet said that “terrorist acts” and continued traffic disruption were no longer acceptable and “represent a threat to Egyptian national security”.
It added: “The cabinet decided to begin taking all necessary measures to address these dangers and put an end to them, commissioning the interior minister to do all that is necessary regarding this matter within the framework of the constitution and the law.”
Since the first day of the June 30 revolt, tens of thousands of Mr Morsi’s supporters have been maintaining a vigil from two giant tent encampments in separate parts of the city.
The largest, in the suburb of Nasr City in eastern Cairo, has often been filled with tens of thousands of people.
The vast majority of them appear adamant that they will not leave the streets until Mohamed Morsi is reinstated as President – an impossible demand for the Brotherhood’s opponents to recognise. Any attempt to clear so many protesters by force would turn into a bloodbath.
This evening [WED] Gehad el-Haddad, a spokesman for the Brotherhood, remained resolute in his assurance that Mr Morsi’s supporters would not melt away. “We don’t recognise this government and we don’t recognise the authorities or the laws they represent,” he told Reuters.
Speaking to The Independent, a pro-Morsi activist said he was not afraid of the impending crackdown. “How much worse can it get?” asked Mohamed Soltan, referring to the two massacres which took place this month. “The government doesn’t understand that blood is the fuel and fire of revolutions.”
Egypt has become dangerously polarised over the course of the past month. Many people – spurred on by a resolutely anti-Brotherhood media – have begun to think of the Islamists camped in Nasr City as little more than a gang of would-be militants.
Statements from the military and television presenters have roused a collective fear of the national “terrorist” threat – conflating a genuine problem of Islamic militancy in North Sinai with scaremongering aimed at followers of Mohamed Morsi.
“The pro-Morsi protest is not a sit-in,” said Haitham al-Shawaf, a member of a youth revolutionary group. “The people there are not protesters, they are militants.”
In a bid to counter the increasingly trenchant rhetoric emerging from both sides, a group calling itself the Third Square movement has occupied yet another plaza in eastern Cairo with a view to rejecting both the influence of the military and the Muslim Brotherhood.
Yet in a sign of how little traction is being gained by appeals to moderation, the campaign has already earned the opprobrium of Tamarod, the youth movement which spearheaded the June 30 revolt.
The group’s spokesman, Mohamed Abdul Aziz, said Third Square was “dividing the people”, adding: “They are living in the past. Now is the time for consensus, we need to move forward.”
Egypt leaders order ‘all necessary measures’ to clear Muslim Brotherhood protests
Egypt’s new leaders have ordered police to clear the streets of Muslim Brotherhood protesters, in a dramatic escalation of the country’s political crisis after the failure of the EU’s foreign affairs representative Baroness Ashton to forge a compromise.
By Richard Spencer, Cairo
6:26PM BST 31 Jul 2013
The cabinet on Wednesday night issued an order to the interior ministry to take “all necessary measures" to end long-running sit-ins by supporters of the deposed president, Mohammed Morsi, at a mosque in north-east Cairo and in another square to the west.
“The continuation of the dangerous situation in Rabaa al-Adawiya and Nahda squares, and consequent terrorism and road blockages, are no longer acceptable given the threat to national security," its statement, read out on live television, said.
“The government has decided to take all necessary measures to confront and end these dangers, and tasks the interior minister to do all that is necessary in this regard, in accordance with the constitution and law."
Anti-regime activists immediately warned the statement was a thinly-veiled threat of a new massacre, after protesters came under fire near the mosque on two occasions since the coup which removed Mr Morsi. More than 50 died on the first occasion, and 80 on the second, in the early hours of Saturday morning.
There have been large numbers of women and even children camped out at the mosque, scene of a women’s protest on Tuesday afternoon.At the same time, the prosecution authorities announced they were charging the three top leaders of the Brotherhood with inciting the killing of protesters outside its headquarters in Cairo last month.
Lady Ashton met all sides of the impasse between the military leadership, the interim government and the Muslim Brotherhood-led opposition, including Mr Morsi himself, on a visit to Egypt earlier this week.
However, both sides said she had no new initiative to offer, after the Brotherhood rejected previous proposals for Mr Morsi to give up his demands to be reinstated in return for release from prison. The German foreign minister, Guido Westerwelle, is to visit on Thursday, while Bernardino Leon, the EU’s Middle East envoy, will also continue her efforts to mediate, her spokesman said.
A spokesman for the foreign ministry said the government welcomed the EU’s interest but was making no offers of compromise to the Brotherhood.
“There is no deal on offer to them," the spokesman, Badr Abdelatty, said. “Reconciliation is open to them."
The authorities have invited the Brotherhood to rejoin the political process, but it has refused to do so unless Mr Morsi is reinstated.
At the same time, the prosecution authorities announced they were charging the three top leaders of the Brotherhood with inciting the killing of protesters outside its headquarters in Cairo last month.
Mr Abdelatty said the decision was independent of the government. But he attacked descriptions of the Brotherhood as “peaceful protesters", saying: “What can you say about people making incitement, asking people to breach military establishments, to attack the police and the military with Molotov cocktails and pistols? Can you accept that?"
Eight people died in clashes outside the building during protests in the final days of Mr Morsi’s rule. In a foreshadowing of the coup, the police had said they would refuse to defend Brotherhood buildings from potential attacks by demonstrators.
Egypt’s rulers want to break up Brotherhood vigils
By Asma Alsharif and Maggie Fick
CAIRO | Wed Jul 31, 2013 7:12pm EDT
(Reuters) – Egypt faced the prospect of fresh bloodshed on Thursday after the country’s army-backed rulers signaled they would move soon to disperse thousands of supporters of deposed Islamist President Mohamed Mursi.
With no sign of a negotiated end to weeks of violent confrontation, Egypt’s interim government said two Cairo vigils by Mursi supporters posed a threat to national security, citing “terrorism" and traffic disruption.
It ordered the Interior Ministry to take steps to “address these dangers and put an end to them," but gave no time frame.
The announcement set up a showdown with the Muslim Brotherhood, which refuses to leave the streets until Egypt’s first freely elected president is reinstated. Deposed by the army on July 3, Mursi remains in military detention at a secret location.
A move against his supporters could bring a new round of bloodletting after security forces shot dead 80 Brotherhood followers at dawn on Saturday and plunged the Arab world’s most populous nation deeper into turmoil.
The crackdown, coupled with criminal probes against Mursi and other Brotherhood leaders, has fuelled global concern that the military plans to crush the Islamist movement, which spent decades in the shadows before winning power in repeated elections after a 2011 uprising toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak.
The fate of the Egyptian Brotherhood could shape that of Islamists across the Middle East at a time of transformation after a wave of popular revolts since 2011.
Wednesday’s announcement appeared to undercut efforts by the European Union to negotiate a peaceful settlement.
The bloc’s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, spent two days in Cairo this week, becoming the first outsider to see Mursi when she was flown after dark by military helicopter to his secret place of confinement.
AMNESTY: RECIPE FOR BLOODSHED
EU envoy Bernadino Leon was in the Egyptian capital on Wednesday to press the mediation effort, and German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle was due to hold talks there on Thursday.
Thousands of Brotherhood supporters are camped out behind volunteers they say are armed only with sticks and shields to keep order.
The interim government says the protesters have guns. The Brotherhood accuses security forces of whipping up trouble to justify a crackdown, and vowed to resist any attempt by the security forces to disperse the camps.
“They tried to do that twice and they failed," said spokesman Gehad El-Haddad. “They killed 200 protesters. Do they want to try that again?"
The Brotherhood’s allies called for a “million-man march" on Friday.
Haddad said EU envoy Leon had visited the main vigil, on a square outside Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque in northern Cairo, on Wednesday. “This military coup is not accepted by a large segment of society," Haddad said. “I think he (Leon) got the message."
Almost 300 people have been killed in weeks of violence since the army deposed Mursi, inspiring fears in the West of a wider conflagration in Egypt, which straddles the Suez Canal and whose 1979 peace treaty with Israel makes it a vital factor in Middle East stability.
The United States, which supports the Egyptian military with $1.3 billion a year in aid, urged security forces to respect the right to peaceful assembly. Two senior Republican senators plan to travel to Cairo next week.
The Brotherhood has spurned an army “road map" to elections and what the military promises will be a return to civilian rule.
Rights group Amnesty International called the cabinet decision to clear the camps “a recipe for further bloodshed" and a “seal of approval to further abuse."
Heba Morayef, Egypt director for Human Rights Watch, said: “They’ve set something in motion."
(Additional reporting by Shadia Nasralla, Tom Perry and Omar Fahmy; Writing by Matt Robinson; Editing by Peter Graff and Philip Barbara)
Meanwhile, Egyptian authorities have referred the leader and two other senior officials of the Muslim Brotherhood to a court on charges of inciting violence.