4 Jul 2013

Islamists urge protests against Egypt’s military coup

An Islamist coalition, led by the Muslim Brotherhood, urges its supporters to take to the streets and protest against a military coup that ousted Egypt’s president Mohamed Morsi.

The National Coalition in Support of Legitimacy, a coalition of Islamist political groups, called its supporters to take part in a peaceful “Friday of rejection”, following prayers.

In a new conference, the coalition said it “calls on the Egyptian people to take to the streets and mobilise peacefully” after Friday prayers “to say ‘No’ to military detentions, ‘No’ to the military coup”.

Egypt’s new transitional president, Adly Mansour, has called for the Muslim Brotherhood to take part in the country’s democratic process and “nation building”. However, the Muslim Brotherhood has rejected such calls.

A statement from one of the party’s leaders, Sheikh Abdel Rahman al-Barr, published on the Brotherhood’s website said: “We reject participation in any work with the usurper authorities.

“We call on protesters to show self restraint and stay peaceful. We reject the oppressive, police state practices: killing, arrests, curbing media freedom and closing TV channels.”


Egypt’s army has been arresting some of the Brotherhood’s leader, including Supreme Leader Mohammed Badie. President Morsi is also understood to have been detained at a military facility, along with a senior aide.

State newspaper Al-Ahram said arrest warrants had been issued for 300 Brotherhood and other Islamist group leaders.

A senior Muslim Brotherhood politican has also warned that the military’s action is likely to lead to violent ressistance, though he said it would not come from his own party. Mohamed el-Beltagy said: “The issue now is the position of the free world that is pushing the country to a state of chaos and pushing groups other than the Brotherhood to return to the idea of change by force”.

Beltagy was speaking at a sit-in by Mursi supporters at a suburban Cairo mosque close to the presidential palace.

New government

As the showdown developed, the military moved to establish Egypt’s interim government. Mr Mansour was sworn in as Egypt’s president for the transition.

He told Channel 4 News that “the responsibility is hard to handle…I was charged by the revolutionaries in the square to get the job done.”

A military source has also suggested that opposition leader Mohammed ElBaradei is being positioned to head the transition government.

“ElBaradei is our first choice,” the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity. “He’s an international figure, popular with young people and believes in a democracy that would include all political forces.

“He is also popular among some Islamist groups.”

Political sources said other figures under consideration were veteran ex-prime minister Kamal al-Ganzouri, who headed a transitional government in 2011-12 after the uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak, and Farouk El-Okdah, a respected former central bank governor.

Celebrating the end of democracy - Krishnan Guru-Murthy reports from Tahrir Square

A decision was likely later on Thursday, the sources said, after constitutional court chief Adli Mansour was sworn in earlier.

Military coup

Milllions celebrated all night while President Morsi – ousted after only a year in office by the same kind of Arab Spring uprising that brought the Islamist leader to power – and his Muslim Brotherhood condemned the action as a “full coup” by the generals.

Meanwhile, Ahmed Aref, a Muslim Brotherhood spokesman, said both Morsi and Essam El-Haddad, a senior aide, were being held but he did not know where. A security official said they were being held at a military intelligence facility.

With Egypt’s first democratically elected president overthrown by the military, the country now faces political limbo.

Quiet had returned to the streets of Cairo on Thursday, though the military was present across the city and there were pockets of pro-Morsi protests (see video, above).

It is unacceptable for a government that has come to power through democratic elections to be toppled through illicit means and, even more, a military coup. Turkish foreign minister

Influential Egyptian Salafist movement Dawa Salafiya also urged Islamist supporters of Mr Morsi to understand the “reality of the change that is happening in the political situation” and “leave the squares to go to their mosques and homes”.

International response

There has been a mixed response from governments across the world to the coup. At one end of the spectrum, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates have been supportive of the change.

A Qatari foreign ministry source was quoted by arabic news channel al-Jazeera as saying: “Qatar will continue to respect the will of Egypt and its people across the spectrum”, whilst UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahayan has sent congratulations to Adly Mansour.

At the other end of the spectrum, Tunisia and Turkey have both criticised the miltary intervention.

The Congress for the Republic, the party of Tunisia’s president, condemned the coup, saying: “We view what the leadership of the army has done as a setback on the path of the Egyptian revolution and an attempt to reinstall the old regime.”

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Thursday: “It is unacceptable for a government that has come to power through democratic elections to be toppled through illicit means and, even more, a military coup.”

The African Union has also been critical of the army’s actions. A senior AU source told Reuters that it is likely that Egypt would be suspended from the Union.

“The belief is that the doctrine will be applied, which is suspension for any country where an unconstitutional change has taken place,” he said.

The British Foreign Secretary William Hague said on Thursday that the UK government would work with Egypt, saying “we have to work with whoever is in authority”.

We are deeply concerned by the decision of the Egyptian Armed Forces to remove President Morsi and suspend the Egyptian constitution. Barack Obama

Speaking to BBC Radio 4, Mr Hague said: “I always condemn military intervention in a democratic system. This is a military intervention in a democratic system.

“We have to understand it’s a popular intervention, there’s no doubt about that in the current state of opinion in Egypt.

Read Lindsey Hilsum's blog - Egypt: a coup or the birth-pangs of true democracy?

“So while warning about the precedent that it sets for the future, of course we have to work with the Egyptians, with the majority will in Egypt, and that’s what we will do.”

The US was more critical, saying it was “deeply concerned” by what it was seeing in Egypt.

A statement released on behalf of Barack Obama said: “The United States is monitoring the very fluid situation in Egypt, and we believe that ultimately the future of Egypt can only be determined by the Egyptian people.

“Nevertheless, we are deeply concerned by the decision of the Egyptian Armed Forces to remove President Morsi and suspend the Egyptian constitution.

“I now call on the Egyptian military to move quickly and responsibly to return full authority back to a democratically elected civilian government as soon as possible through an inclusive and transparent process, and to avoid any arbitrary arrests of President Morsi and his supporters.”