Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat—Egyptian authorities have escalated their crackdown against the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood after three explosions struck near the Ittihadiya presidential palace in Cairo earlier this week. Two policemen were killed in the attack on Monday and a number of leaders of the pro-Mursi Anti-Coup Alliance were subsequently arrested.
The latest unrest comes on the anniversary of former Islamist President Mohamed Mursi’s ouster from power, with the Muslim Brotherhood calling for nationwide protests on July 3 as part of a “day of anger.”
Acting head of the Construction and Development Party, Nasr Abdel-Salam, Istiqlal Party leader Magdy Hussein and Wasat Party member Hossam Khalaf were arrested by Egyptian authorities on Tuesday. The homes of a number of Anti-Coup youth leaders were also raided by police, including spokesman Diaa El-Sawi.
The Anti-Coup Alliance has condemned Cairo’s arrest of its leaders and “barbaric raids” on other leaders’ homes, criticizing the “repressive and reckless approach” of the government of President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi. A statement issued by the Anti-Coup Alliance warned: “Coup authorities have kidnapped a number of leaders regarded as a safety valve for the peaceful Revolution . . . It is evident that the putschists are determined to push things to the point of outright conflict and violent confrontation.”
Mursi was removed from power on July 3, 2013, on the orders of then-Defense Minister Sisi following nation-wide protests against Muslim Brotherhood rule. The authorities in Cairo refer to Mursi’s ouster as the June 30 revolution, while the Muslim Brotherhood have dubbed this a military coup and refused to recognize the legitimacy of the new government.
The Anti-Coup Alliance has called for a “tremendous day of anger” on July 3, saying this will be “the spark and the start of the first leg of the great event which this homeland desperately needs.”
“Let us launch our July 3 uprising everywhere in Egypt. This homeland belongs to the people. We will not hesitate to join mass marches outside the houses of repression judges and coup criminals, torture centers and dens of corruption,” the statement added.
In comments to Asharq Al-Awsat, Anti-Coup Alliance spokesman Magdi Qarqar warned: “The latest escalation is not justified and could lead us to violence.”
“It is difficult to understand the reasons behind this escalation; perhaps it is an attempt to influence the protests set to take place on July 3,” he added.
Observers told Asharq Al-Awsat that the latest spate of arrests was likely linked to Monday’s explosions at Ittihadiya Palace rather than the call for July 3 demonstrations; the Muslim Brotherhood has denied responsibility for the attacks.
Islamist militant group Ajnad Misr claimed responsibility for the explosions at the Ittihadiya Palace via social media. Cairo maintains that the group is a front for the outlawed Brotherhood.
Cairo announced on Wednesday that it had arrested four members of the Islamist militant group suspected of involvement in the blasts, according to local media.