Egypt army chief calls for protests against violence
CAIRO - Reuters
Members of the Muslim Brotherhood and supporters of ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi walk near the mock grave of a protester who was killed yesterday, during clashes around Cairo University and Nahdet Misr Square in Giza July 23, 2013. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah DalshEgypt's military chief called for mass rallies on Friday to give the army a mandate to confront violence following the overthrow of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi, appearing to up the ante against the Muslim Brotherhood.
General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who deposed Morsi on July 3 and replaced his government with a new interim administration, also said there would be no retreat from the army-backed roadmap that envisions parliamentary elections within six months.
"I ask ... that next Friday all honest and trustworthy Egyptians must come out," Sisi said in remarks broadcast live by state media. "Why come out? They come out to give me the mandate and order that I confront violence and potential terrorism."
A senior member of Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood movement, Essam El-Erian, said Sisi's appeal was a threat, but vowed that it would not halt protests to back the ousted president.
"Your threat will not prevent millions from continuing to gather," Erian wrote on Facebook.
Sisi's remarks at a military graduation ceremony followed an overnight bomb attack on a police station in Mansoura, 110 km north of Cairo, that killed one person and wounded two dozen others.
A government spokesman condemned it as a terrorist attack.
Morsi's Islamist backers have accused security forces of conspiring to blame them for the bombing.
In a statement, they warned of "an apparent plan by security and intelligence agencies to plot violent attacks to terrorize citizens and then attempt to link these incidents to the peaceful protesters".
The authorities have accused Morsi's supporters of employing violence since he was removed from power following mass protests against his rule. More than 100 people, most of them Morsi supporters, have been killed since then. The Muslim Brotherhood says it has not and will not resort to violence.
With many of its top leaders in jail and Morsi in military detention, the Brotherhood says its supporters are being attacked by plain-clothes agents deployed by the authorities - a charge denied by security officials.
Overnight, at least two more people died in the streets of Cairo in protests against Morsi's ouster. That followed nine fatalities in the capital on Tuesday - bloodshed underscoring the depth of the crisis facing Egypt and the interim government.
'Threat' against Brotherhood
The call of al-Sisi aounts to a threat against the Muslim Brotherhood, a senior member of the group said.
"Your threat will not stop the millions from continuing to gather," Essam El-Erian wrote on his Facebook page on Wednesday, calling Sisi "a coup leader who kills women, children and those at prayer."
Around 100 people have been killed since the army deposed Islamist President Mohamed Morsi on July 3, most of them supporters of his Muslim Brotherhood who died in street clashes with the military and Mursi's opponents.