London, Asharq Al-Awsat—Egypt’s interim authorities issued a second call on Wednesday for supporters of deposed Islamist President Mohamed Mursi to disperse from Cairo’s streets and squares and return to their homes.
The Egyptian Interior Ministry issued a public announcement on Wednesday calling “on those in Rabaa Al-Adawiya and Nahda Squares to let reason and the national interest prevail, and to quickly leave.”
In a live televised statement, spokesman Hany Abdel Latif said that the Egyptian Interior ministry promises “a safe exit and full protection to whoever responds to this appeal,” amid fears of more bloodshed and violence.
The Interior Ministry did not give the Mursi supporters who have staged sit-ins in two major Cairo squares a deadline to disperse.
The Muslim Brotherhood-led National Alliance to Support Legitimacy immediately rejected the government’s statement, calling for a million-man march on Friday.
“The alliance affirms that the Egyptian nation now recognizes the truth terrorists after several massacres committed by the putschists against pro-Mursi protesters,” a spokesman said.
Referring to the Egyptian cabinet and its order to end the pro-Mursi sit-ins, the alliance statement read: “Whatever they do, we will not be silent about their thugs…Let the world know who is peaceful and who is inciting terror.”
Egypt’s cabinet had earlier threatened to take “all legal measures necessary to confront acts of terrorism and road-blocking.” Supporters of the deposed president have pledged to remain on the streets until he is reinstated.
The supporters of the deposed president appeared to be gearing up for a fight on Thursday, clearing access points to ease ambulance access and storing buckets of sand throughout the camp to be used to extinguish tear gas canisters.
Mohamed Saqr, a Muslim Brotherhood activist guarding an entrance to Rabaa Al-Adawiya, told Reuters: “We are ready. We are ready to die for legitimacy. An attack can happen at any moment.”
The Interior Ministry’s second warning to Mursi supporters on Cairo’s streets comes after Washington urged Cairo to respect freedom of assembly on Wednesday.
“We have continued to urge the interim government officials and security forces to respect the rights of peaceful assembly. That obviously includes sit-ins,” US State Department spokesman Marie Harf told reports one day before the Interior Ministry’s latest call.
The US has issued repeated calls for the interim Egyptian government to exercise restraint following Mursi’s ouster; however Washington has stopped short of calling this a “military coup.”
“We believe the continued provision of assistance to Egypt, obviously consistent with our legal obligations, is important to our national security interests and to our goal of advancing Egypt back towards an inclusive democratic process,” Harf added.
President Obama has asked Republican senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain to travel to Egypt next week to push the Egyptian military to move forward with new election plans.
“The president asked Sen. McCain and myself to go to Egypt next week, so we’re trying to find a way to get there,” Graham told CBS news.
As for the reason behind the trip, the Republican Senator from South Carolina said that this was “so we can go over and reinforce in a bipartisan fashion the message that we have to move to civilian control, that the military to going to have to, you know, allow the country to have new elections and move towards an inclusive, democratic approach.”
Graham emphasized that he and McCain would seek “to talk to the military and the political leaders, hopefully including the Muslim Brotherhood, to have a unified message that we want Egypt to be successful and you cannot stop the progress and the march for democracy [and] that the military has to turn over as fast as possible control to a civilian government.”
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle was also in Cairo for talks with Egypt’s interim government. A spokesman said the visit was aimed at encouraging Egypt to return to the path of democracy.
Representatives of the Tamarod (Rebellion) movement that was instrumental in securing Mursi’s ouster expressed their discontent with Berlin’s stance on the situation in Egypt.
During a meeting with Westerwelle, Tamarod spokesman Mahmoud Badr criticized Germany’s stance on Mursi’s ouster.
In a Facebook post following the meeting, Badr said: “We told him [Westerwelle] that we resented some of his statements where he asked for the return of the deposed president. We told him that we’re here to see him to tell him about the story of Hitler who came [to power] by his people’s votes but turned against democracy.”
“Why did you reject Hitler in Germany but want him back in Egypt?” asked Badr, likening deposed president Mohamed Mursi to the Nazi leader.
In a statement on Wednesday, Westerwelle demanded Mursi’s release, describing him as a political prisoner.