London, Asharq Al-Awsat—Egypt witnessed the worst violence in months on Friday, with clashes between Islamist protesters and security forces continuing across the country on Saturday.
Speaking earlier on Saturday, Egyptian Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim warned that the country’s security forces “will not tolerate assaults on the safety of Egypt’s citizens.” He added: “The security apparatus will not leave Egypt hostage in the hands of the outlaws,” he added.
Egypt’s Ministry of Health placed Friday’s death toll at 14, but medical sources claimed that at least 17 people had been killed in clashes, with substantial injuries being incurred both by protesters and police forces. Deaths were recorded in Egypt’s two main cities of Cairo and Alexandria, as well as the Suez Canal city of Ismailia and the Upper Egypt cities of Fayoum and Minya.
Police claimed to have arrested more than 250 Muslim Brotherhood supporters, including some in possession of weapons and explosives.
Egyptian state news agency MENA also reported that 11 Muslim Brotherhood members were arrested in the northern city of Port Said during a pro-Mursi demonstration for allegedly assaulting military officers protecting governorate headquarters.
Police also fired teargas at a student march at Al-Azhar University, which has been a major center of Islamist protests in recent weeks.
Muslim Brotherhood supporters also reportedly attacked the home of Tamarod movement founder Mohamed Badr on Friday. Tamarod, meaning rebellion, played a significant role in the protests that led to the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Mursi in July 2013.
Clashes were reported overnight in several Cairo districts, with local residents reporting a heavy police presence in the capital.
Egypt state TV on Saturday reported that the Foreign Ministry had summoned Qatar’s ambassador to Cairo, Saif Moqadam Al-Boenain, to “reject” statements about the internal strife gripping the country.
The Qatari Foreign Ministry had issued a statement on Friday expressing concerns about the recent security crackdown against the Muslim Brotherhood. The statement claimed that Egypt’s designation of the Brotherhood as a terrorist group was “a prelude to a shoot-to-kill policy” against demonstrators.
Qatar said that “inclusive dialogue” between all sides is the only solution to Egypt’s crisis.
Speaking prior to the recent unrest, Egyptian Defense Minister Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi—considered by many as likely to be Egypt’s next president—vowed to continue with the crackdown against the Muslim Brotherhood.
“Do not worry or fear, the army will sacrifice for Egypt. We will eliminate terrorism,” Sisi said at a military ceremony.