Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat—An Egyptian judge ordered former president Mohamed Mursi to be detained for an additional 15 days on Monday, pending interrogation on charges of espionage.
The former president has been in custody since being removed from power by the army, in response to mass protests, at the beginning of July.
Meanwhile the Muslim Brotherhood supporters beefed up protests in Rabaa Al-Adawiya Square in Cairo amid reports authorities will take firm measures to disperse the 46-day-old rallies which are deemed to pose a threat to “national security.”
“Plans to break up the two rallies have been postponed to give a chance for peaceful solutions without violence but this has not paid off yet,” senior security sources announced.
The Islamist president is currently in detention at an undisclosed facility, accused of plotting with the Palestinian Hamas and the Lebanese Hezbollah to stage attacks on police facilities. The Brotherhood itself is accused of attacking prisons as well as setting fire to Wadi El-Natrun prison where Mursi and a number of Brotherhood figures were detained after the January 25 revolution of 2011.
On Monday, the interim president of Egypt, Adly Mansour, headed an emergency National Security Council meeting at the Heliopolis Palace to discuss the recent security developments in the country and ways to break up pro-Mursi protests in Rabaa Al-Adawiya and Nahda squares in Cairo. The meeting came as the country’s interim leaders announced diplomatic efforts to defuse the crisis with the Brotherhood hit a wall.
“The consultations are continuing among all government bodies. The most probable path is to encircle the two sit-ins, to choke them instead of (launching) a security intervention that could cause casualties,” a senior security source told the state-run Al-Ahram newspaper.
Pro-Mursi protestors have been camped out in the squares demanding the reinstatement of the Islamist president since the mass protests of June 30.
In an act of defiance, the National Coalition for Supporting Legitimacy, which consists of several Islamist parties in addition to the Brotherhood, issued a statement demanding that the “putschists” allow them organize protests on August 16 in Tahrir Square and the area near the Heliopolis palace.
The statement went on: “We promise them protests they have not seen before,” adding, “Let them show us how honest they are in supporting the public will as they have claimed on several occasions in the past.”
“[The coalition] emphasizes the legitimacy of Rabaa Al-Adawiya and Nahda rallies as well as other peaceful protests in Egypt’s squares and that staging sit-ins in this form is a legitimate right for Egyptians which no one can deny,” the statement said.
The coalition vowed to organize other pro-Mursi activities across Egypt starting from today’s protests which they dubbed “Together against the coup and Zionists.”
Meanwhile, Egypt’s foreign minister Nabil Fahmi said the interim government’s efforts to achieve a national reconciliation will ensure the participation of all political sides as long as they avoid engaging in or inciting violence.
“It is no longer possible to accept that non-peaceful protests continue during which [protestors] engage in and incite violence as well as impede people’s activities,” Fahmi told Asharq Al-Awsat.
He also urged the international community specifically the EU to “completely understand that the interim government is fully committed to move forward towards putting the road map into effect until a modern democratic system is established.”
As for the government’s plans to end the on-going pro-Mursi protests, Fahmi insisted that the procedure will be within the law.
“If the police force take their procedures, they will do that in accordance with the law by court order and in accordance to the basic norms on which these things are done,” Fahmi told the BBC.