Morsi supporters await army crackdown in Cairo

Morsi supporters await army crackdown in Cairo

CAIRO – The Associated Press
Morsi supporters await army crackdown in Cairo

Members of Muslim Brotherhood and Morsi-supporters conduct checks in front of barricades at entrance to camp at the main gate of Cairo University. REUTERS photo

Egyptian authorities postponed Aug.12 a move to disperse two Cairo sit-ins by supporters of the country’s ousted president to “avoid bloodshed,” an official said, as Islamist supporters stepped up rallies to demand his return to power.

The postponement could, at least temporarily, defuse tensions that had escalated overnight as the country braced for a new bout of violence. Any moves by the police against the protesters would have set the stage for deadly clashes with tens of thousands gathered at the two Cairo sit-ins in support of ex-President Mohamed Morsi. An Egyptian security official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the decision to postpone an advance against the protest camps by Muslim Brotherhood supporters came after a plan on ending the sit-ins was leaked to the media.

The security forces had planned to form cordons around the Cairo protest sites as early as dawn Aug.12 , according to officials who spoke earlier to The Associated Press.

The protesters have said they will not leave until Morsi is reinstated. Weeks of efforts by the international community to end the standoff and find a peaceful resolution have so far failed. Egypt’s interim prime minister warned just ahead of the Muslim Eid al-Fitr holiday that ended Aug. 11 that the government’s decision to clear the sit-ins was “irreversible.”

The sit-in, along with a second one in Cairo’s twin city of Giza, are used as hotbeds for street rallies. The government says the protest camps are a “threat to national security.” Brotherhood supporters also took to the streets Aug.12 in downtown Cairo and elsewhere in the country, chanting anti-military slogans and carrying pictures of Morsi.

Al-Azhar rebuffed

Meanwhile, an influential Brotherhood member, Mohammed el-Beltagi, turned down an offer Aug.12 by the head of the Al-Azhar, the Sunni Muslim world’s top religious institution, to negotiate a solution.
El-Beltagi said that top Al-Azhar cleric Ahmed el-Tayyb was not an impartial mediator because he backed the coup. Another Brotherhood figure, Saad Emara, dismissed all efforts to negotiate a solution, saying the Brotherhood doesn’t recognize the “initiatives from the post-coup era."

“The key to a resolution is the return of legitimate institutions, including the president,” Emara said. Meanwhile, Egypt’s judiciary said it was extending Morsi’s detention for a further 15 days pending an investigation into his collaboration with Hamas.

Morsi was placed in detention on July 26 over his links with the Palestinian militant group, which rules neighboring Gaza. He is to be questioned on whether he collaborated with Hamas in attacks on police
stations and prison breaks in early 2011, when Islamist and other political inmates escaped during a revolt against strongman Hosni Mubarak.

The alleged crimes are being investigated by a Cairo court probing how inmates broke out of a prison in late January 2011.