The ousted President’s supporters flocked to a large vigil in Cairo despite the Army-backed government’s warning to end the protests.
Mohamed Morsy’s supporters flocked to a large vigil in Cairo on Friday, determined to hold their ground and demand the ousted President be reinstated, despite the Army-backed government’s warning to end the sit-ins.
“Even if the coup plotters use heavy weapons against us, our peacefulness is stronger than their weapons,” Muslim Brotherhood chief Mohammed Badie said, in calling for massive rallies across the country after Friday prayers to condemn the Army’s toppling of the Islamist leader on July 3, 2013.
“I call on each and every Egyptian to continue their struggle for freedom and return of legitimacy,” Mr. Badie said.
The Muslim Brotherhood has repeatedly condemned the ouster of Egypt’s first democratically elected President as a coup, and vowed to continue protesting until he is restored to office.
The police on Thursday ordered Mr. Morsy’s backers to leave two large sit-ins — in the area of Rabaa al-Adawiya in north-eastern Cairo and al-Nahda Square south of the capital — promising them safe exit.
Thousands of Mr. Morsy’s supporters have been camping in the two areas for weeks in protest.
The police set no specific date for breaking up the sit-ins.
Local and international human rights groups have warned that using force to disperse the protesters will result in high casualties.
More than 200 people, mainly Muslim Brotherhood followers, have been killed since Mr. Morsy’s overthrow, which came after millions took to the streets demanding that he step down and calling for fresh elections.
The former President has been detained by the Army at an undisclosed location. He faces charges of conspiring with the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas to carry out “hostile acts” in Egypt during the uprising against his predecessor, Hosni Mubarak, in 2011.
In a marked shift of Washington’s policy, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has said the Egyptian Army was restoring democracy when it removed Mr. Morsy.
“The military was asked to intervene by millions and millions of people, all of whom were afraid of a descent into chaos, into violence,” Mr. Kerry told Pakistani broadcaster Geo TV.
“And the military did not take over, to the best of our judgement — so far. To run the country, there’s a civilian government. In effect, they were restoring democracy,” he said in the interview broadcast on Friday.
AP reports from Cairo:
HRW condemns warning against sit-ins
International human rights group Human Rights Watch has warned Egypt’s new interim leadership against ending sit-ins by loyalists of ousted president by force, saying all measures must be taken to avert a “bloodbath”.
Nadim Houry from the New York-based group says Egyptian authorities need to “avoid another bloodbath” and “ensure the ongoing right of protesters to assemble peacefully.”