London, Asharq Al-Awsat—As Egypt braces for a new wave of protests and counter-protests between supporters and opponents of Mohamed Mursi, state prosecutors have ordered the deposed president’s detention for a period of 15 days over alleged contacts with the Palestinian militant group Hamas.
This represents the first official word on the deposed president since his ouster earlier this month. Military sources had previously announced that Mursi was being held by the Republican Guard at an unnamed location “for his own safety.” The former Egyptian president has not been seen publicly since July 3, when the military announced a “roadmap” removing him from power.
Egypt’s state news agency, MENA, announced that a Cairo court is investigating Mursi for “collaborating” with Hamas when President Hosni Mubarak was still in power. Mursi is reportedly facing murder and kidnapping charges relating to his 2011 escape from a Cairo prison with other top Muslim Brotherhood leaders.
The MENA report revealed that Mursi has already been questioned and that investigating judge Hassan Samir had confronted the deposed president with evidence of his complicity. The report did not include Mursi’s response or any further information regarding when or where he had been questioned.
Muslim Brotherhood spokesman Gehad El-Haddad branded the prosecution’s accusations against Mursi as “ridiculous,” adding that this move represented the return of the “old regime.”
The announcement of the investigation into Mursi came just hours before tens of thousands of protesters are expected to take to the streets in Cairo in response to Egyptian army chief Gen. Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi’s call for a mass pro-military rally. Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood called for a counter-protest in support of the reinstatement of the deposed president, framing Sisi’s call for a massive pro-military rally as a call for civil war.
Minor clashes between supporters and opponents of Mursi were reported in the Cairo district of Shubra early on Friday, with more protesters expected to take to the streets later in the day.
The pro-military demonstration called for by Sisi is scheduled to start at 5 p.m. local time in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, amid reports of vendors selling Egyptian flags and even posters of the army chief. Egyptian military armored personnel carriers have been stationed along the entrances and exits to Tahrir Square, reportedly to prevent violence.
Meanwhile, reports indicate that as many as 35 pro-Mursi counter-protests are set to take place across the capital following a call from Muslim Brotherhood general guide Mohamed Badie.
Speaking on Thursday following Sisi’s call, Badie called on Egyptians to “turn out to announce you stand for freedom and legitimacy and against the bloody coup.”