Egypt’s Islamist Muslim Brotherhood pledged on Thursday to continue its “peaceful” protest against the military’s overthrow of president Mohammed Morsi last week, despite the crackdown on his supporters.
Egypt’s Islamist Muslim Brotherhood movement vowed on Thursday to continue its “peaceful “ resistance against the military’s overthrow of president Mohammed Morsi and distanced itself from an assassination attempt on a senior army commander in the Sinai Peninsula.
The movement’s statement came a day after Egypt’s interim government tightened its crackdown on the Brotherhood, ordering the arrest of its spiritual leader. Outraged by Morsi’s removal from power, the Brotherhood has called for his immediate release from an undisclosed Defence Ministry facility and demanded he be reinstated as president.
“We will continue our peaceful resistance to the bloody military coup against constitutional legitimacy,” the Brotherhood said. “We trust that the peaceful and popular will of the people shall triumph over force and oppression.”
Morsi, Egypt’s first freely elected president, was ousted by the military on July 3, following a wave of mass protests against his leadership.
The Brotherhood’s statement also denounced the assassination attempt against Major General Ahmed Wasfi in the Sinai town of Rafah, near the border with Gaza, saying the group adheres to peaceful measures in line with what it says are the teachings of Islam.
Gunmen in a pickup truck opened fire on Wasfi’s convoy late Wednesday, drawing fire from the accompanying troops, security officials said. The commander escaped unharmed but a 5-year-old girl was killed in the clashes, said the officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to speak to the media. One gunman was arrested.
The Brotherhood denounced the warrants for the arrest of Mohammed Badie and nine other leading Islamists for inciting violence that left dozens dead in Cairo on Monday, saying “dictatorship is back” and insisting it will never work with the interim rulers.
Leaders of the Brotherhood are believed to be taking refuge somewhere near a continuing sit-in by the group’s supporters at the Rabaah al-Adawiya Mosque in eastern Cairo, but it is not clear if Badie is also there.
Security agencies have already jailed five leaders of the Brotherhood, including Badie’s powerful deputy, Khairat el-Shaiter, and shut down its media outlets.
The prosecutor general’s office said Badie, another deputy, Mahmoud Ezzat, senior member Mohammed El-Beltagy and popular preacher Safwat Hegazy are suspected of instigating Monday’s clashes with security forces outside a Republican Guard building that killed 54 people – most of them Morsi supporters – in the worst bloodshed since he was ousted.
The Islamists have accused the troops of gunning down protesters, while the military blamed armed backers of Morsi for attempting to storm a military building.
The arrest warrants highlight the armed forces’ zero-tolerance policy toward the Brotherhood, which was banned under authoritarian leader Hosni Mubarak.
“This just signals that dictatorship is back,” said Brotherhood spokesman Ahmed Aref. “We are returning to what is worse than Mubarak’s regime, which wouldn’t dare to issue an arrest warrant of the general leader of the Muslim Brotherhood.”
The Brotherhood’s refusal to work with the new interim leaders underscored the difficulties they face in trying to stabilize Egypt and bridge the deep fissures that have opened in the country during Morsi’s year in office.