Egyptian Military Vows to Put An End To Pro-Morsi Protests
The Egyptian military is issuing an ultimatum to the members of the Muslim Brotherhood protesting the nearly month-old coup:
CAIRO — Egypt’s new rulers said on Wednesday vigils by supporters of deposed President Mohamed Mursi threatened national security, and signalled that they would end them, setting up a potentially bloody showdown with the Muslim Brotherhood.
Thousands of Mursi’s Brotherhood supporters have camped out for a month at two sites in Cairo to protest against the army’s overthrow of Egypt’s first freely elected president on July 3.
Almost 300 people have been killed in weeks of violence since the army deposed Mursi, including at least 80 when security forces fired on his supporters marching from the main vigil at a mosque in northern Cairo.
In a televised statement, an interim cabinet installed by the military said “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.”
Minutes earlier, judicial sources said authorities had referred the Brotherhood’s supreme guide, Mohammed Badie, and two of its senior officials to court on charges of inciting violence. Badie has not been detained so far.
Such steps have raised global concern that Egypt’s army-backed rulers will try to crush the Brotherhood, which emerged from decades in the shadows to win successive elections and take power after a 2011 revolt toppled veteran ruler Hosni Mubarak.
The Brotherhood, which has sworn to keep up its street vigils until Mursi is reinstated, was defiant after the cabinet statement threatening to remove the protest camps.
“We don’t recognise this government and we don’t recognise the authorities or the laws they represent,” spokesman Gehad El-Haddad said.
Asked about the possibility of a crackdown, he said: “They tried to do that twice and they failed. They killed 200 protesters. Do they want to try that again?”
Given how the military has behaved to date, I’m not sure that we should rule anything out.