London, Asharq Al-Awsat—Egyptians braced for more violence on Wednesday after the military-backed government ordered police to end sit-ins and demonstrations in Cairo held by supporters of ousted Islamist president Mohamed Mursi.
In a televised statement, the interim cabinet announced that “terrorist acts” and the disruption of traffic stemming from two major pro-Mursi protests in Cairo “represent a threat to Egyptian national security.”
“The cabinet has decided to take 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,” Information Minister Dorreya Sharaf Eddin announced.
Mursi supporters have gathered in a square in eastern Cairo outside Rabaa Al-Adawiya mosque since the announcement of his ouster in early June, demanding the Islamist president’s reinstatement. A second smaller pro-Mursi sit-in has been taking place at Nahda Square near the main campus of Cairo University.
The Muslim Brotherhood supporters have pledged to remain on the streets until what they deem a “bloody military coup” is overturned.
Deadly clashes erupted on Saturday, killing at least 70 people after Egyptian army chief General Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi called on the Egyptian people to demonstrate against “violence” and “terrorism.” Following this, the Muslim Brotherhood called for a rival demonstration against the “military coup,” which allegedly came under attack by the security forces.
The Muslim Brotherhood claim that snipers targeted the peaceful demonstrators, while the Egyptian Interior Ministry later claimed that the security forces had been attacked, and that no live ammunition was fired.
Despite the violence, pro-Mursi demonstrators have remained in Cairo’s squares and streets demanding the president’s return. Mursi supporters marched in a number of governorates across Egypt on Tuesday, again demanding the deposed president’s reinstatement, in addition to commemorating the “martyrs of the coup.”
Protesters marched to the headquarters of Egypt’s military intelligence, located in Cairo’s Nasr City, close to Rabaa Al-Adawiya. Marches and demonstrations also took place in Alexandria, Beheira, Mansoura, Marsa Matrouh, Suez, Qena, and Aswan.
Minutes before the statement ordering the end of the Cairo sit-ins, Egyptian authorities announced that they had referred Muslim Brotherhood General Guide Mohamed Badie, Deputy Guide Khairat El-Shater, and senior officer Rashed Bayoumi to the criminal court, on charges of inciting violence against peaceful protesters during the demonstrations that toppled Mursi. Egypt’s top prosecutor also ordered the arrest of Muslim Brotherhood figures Osama Yassin and Essam El-Erian, in addition to Salafist preacher Safwat Hegazy.