Supporters of Egypt’s ousted president Mohammed Mursi urged fresh rallies on Friday, raising fears of renewed violence as police prepared to disperse their Cairo sit-ins
The call came as the Muslim Brotherhood slammed US Secretary of State John Kerry after he said the Egyptian army was “restoring democracy” by deposing the Islamist leader.
“Is it the job of the army to restore democracy?” asked Gehad al-Haddad, a spokesman for Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood in a statement.
“Does Secretary Kerry accept Defense Secretary (Chuck) Hagel to step in and remove (US President Barack) Obama if large protests take place in America?”
“Will the US army freeze the constitution and dismantle Congress and (the) Senate? Can they appoint a president that they solely choose?”
Haddad’s statement came after Kerry told Pakistan’s Geo television on Thursday that the Egyptian military had acted to save the country from violence by ousting Mursi on July 3 after major nationwide protests.
“The military was asked to intervene by millions and millions of people, all of whom were afraid of a descendance into chaos, into violence,” Kerry told Geo.
“And the military did not take over, to the best of our judgement – so far. To run the country, there’s a civilian government. In effect, they were restoring democracy,” he added.
Haddad called Kerry’s comments “alarming”, and accused the US administration of being “complicit in the military coup”.
“The American people should stand against an administration that is corrupting their values in supporting tyranny and dictatorship,” he added.
Washington has been at pains to avoid calling Mursi’s ouster a coup, which would have immediate implications for its aid to the Egyptian military.
Allaa Mostafa, a spokeswoman for the pro-Mursi Anti Coup Alliance, told AFP that demonstrators would “continue our sit-ins and our peaceful protests” against what she called a “coup d’etat”.
Mursi followers rejected an earlier interior ministry offer of a “safe exit” if they quickly left their Cairo protest camps, as police discussed how to implement orders from the military-installed interim government to end the protests.
Meanwhile, diplomatic efforts to avoid further bloodshed gathered pace, with the European Union’s Middle East envoy Bernardino Leon and German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle both in Cairo to urge the rival camps to find common ground.
A senior member of the Freedom and Justice Party, the political arm of Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood, said the European envoys asked them to end their sit-ins.
“All the European delegates have the same message; they are pressuring the anti-coup protesters to disperse the sit-ins,” said the official.
After meeting Muslim Brotherhood representatives, Westerwelle warned that the situation was “very explosive”.
The stand-off raised fears of new violence less than a week after 82 people were killed in clashes at a pro-Mursi rally in the capital.
More than 250 people have been killed since the president’s ouster following nationwide protests against his single year in power.