London, Asharq Al-Awsat—Egypt continued to spiral out of control on Saturday after national political forces sought to get a handle on the violence that has broken out across the country following Mohamed Mursi’s ouster.
Egypt’s interim president Adly Mansour met with army chief and Defense Minister General Abdel-Fattah El-Sissi and Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim at the Ittihadiya presidential palace on Saturday to address the deteriorating security situation which claimed at least 37 lives on Friday.
Mansour also met with leaders of the Tamarod (Rebellion) youth movement that had organized the mass anti-Mursi protests which culminated in his ouster. Leaders of the Freedom and Justice Party, the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood, had also been invited to attend the meeting at the presidential palace, but instead rejected the interim president’s invitation.
Freedom and Justice Party Secretary-General Hussein Ibrahim issued a statement rejecting the invitation. He said, “The party doesn’t acknowledge the coup d’état, we stress that the legitimate president of Egypt is Mohamed Mursi.”
The United States and United Nations expressed concern about the deteriorating security situation in Egypt. The US State Department urged Egypt’s leaders to put an end to the violence that has engulfed the country while UN Secretary-General Ban KI-Moon called for demonstrators to be protected.
“We call on all Egyptian leaders to condemn the use of force and to prevent further violence among their supporters,” US State Department spokesman Jen Psaki said.
While the UN Secretary-General’s spokesman, Farhan Haq, said: “The Secretary-General believes strongly that this is a critical juncture in which it is imperative for Egyptians to work together to chart a peaceful return to civilian control, constitutional order, and democratic governance.”
Clashes across the country on Friday left at least 37 people killed as tens of thousands of supporters of deposed president Mohamed Mursi took to the streets. At least 12 people were killed in the northern coastal city of Alexandria as Mursi supporters and opponents clashed, Egypt’s official MENA news agency reported.
While at least four people were killed and dozens injured as Muslim Brotherhood supporters sought to confront anti-Mursi demonstrators in Cairo’s iconic Tahrir Square on Friday evening. Muslim Brotherhood supporters marched from Raba’a Al-Adawiya Square to confront the secular and liberal protesters who had taken to the streets on June 30 to oust the Islamist president. The Egyptian military intervened, separating the protesters using armored vehicles.
In addition to this, four pro-Mursi protesters were reported killed outside the Republican Guard headquarters in Cairo where the ousted president is being held. Five Egyptian police officers were reportedly killed in the Sinai town of El-Arish; it remains unclear whether this attack was in reaction to the army’s overthrow of Egypt’s first elected Islamist president. Egyptian soldiers and Mursi-supporters also clashed in the cities of Suez and Ismailia.
The clashes on Friday intensified after Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohammed Badie called on Mursi-supporters to remain in Egypt’s streets and squares until Mursi is returned to office.
“God make Mursi victorious and bring him back to the palace,” the Brotherhood chief proclaimed on Friday before cheering supporters outside Cairo’s Raba’a Al-Adawiya mosque, which has become a focal point for Mursi supporters in Cairo.
“We are his soldiers, we defend him with our lives,” the Muslim Brotherhood chief added. Badie had originally been arrested earlier in the day in Marsa Matrouh in north-west Egypt close to the Libyan border. He was flown to Cairo by military helicopter, before later being released.
However just a few short hours after the Muslim Brotherhood chief’s inflammatory speech, deputy Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide Khairat El-Shater was arrested in Cairo, along with other senior Brotherhood figures, on charges of inciting violence.