London/Paris, Asharq Al-Awsat—Supporters of deposed Egyptian president Mohamed Mursi staged a number of rallies across the country on Friday in defiance of government orders to disband. Most pro-Mursi demonstrations were peaceful, with the exception of clashes at Cairo’s Media Production City that resulted in a number of injuries.
The latest protests preceded the Egyptian interior ministry’s third call, issued today, for Muslim Brotherhood supporters to return to their homes.
In remarks on state television, interior ministry spokesman Hany Abdel-Latif said: “If you believe you are bringing victory to the Brotherhood [by pursuing the sit-ins], it is your safe and secure departure that will allow the Brotherhood to go back to its role in the political process.”
According to state news agency MENA, Egypt’s health ministry announced that 23 people were injured at the media complex in the early hours of Saturday morning. MENA also reported that two policeman had been injured in the clashes.
There had been widespread fear of violence after the interim Egyptian government ordered police to block access to pro-Mursi protest camps in Cairo on Friday.
The state news agency also reported that police had arrested 31 members of the Muslim Brotherhood for “seeking to break into the media complex.”
Clashes between the police and the Muslim Brotherhood began after Mursi supporters marched towards the media complex that houses most of the country’s privately owned satellite television channels. The Egyptian police responded by firing tear gas in an attempt to disperse the march.
The march was just one of a number of demonstrations organized by the Muslim Brotherhood to take place across the country on Friday.
The National Alliance to Support Legitimacy, an Islamist coalition demanding Mursi’s reinstatement, also announced a new sit-in at the Al-Alf Maskan area of Cairo’s Heliopolis district.
Egypt’s interior ministry had previously called for the disbandment of all pro-Mursi Cairo demonstrations and sit-ins, citing national security threats.
This new sit-in is the third major pro-Mursi demonstration in the Egyptian capital, along with already established demonstration at Rabaa Al-Adawiya in northeastern Cairo and Al-Nahda Square in Giza.
A high-level European source, speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity, expressed fears regarding the new Egyptian authorities’ approach to dealing with the pro-Mursi protests, warning against a new “bloodbath.”
The source revealed that the Europeans have sent a number of messages to the new Egyptian authorities that the use of violence to break the pro-Mursi protests will “backfire.”
The source added, “This will also place the Europeans in a difficult position as they will be unable, following this, to be cautious in expressing their criticism for the way in which things are heading.”
The source added that the Europeans will be unable to remain silent regarding the violation of the legitimate right to peaceful protest in Egypt.