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31 Jul, 2013 15:00

Police ordered to break up pro-Morsi protest, Islamists remain defiant

Police ordered to break up pro-Morsi protest, Islamists remain defiant

Egypt’s interim government said on Wednesday that pro-Muslim Brotherhood sit-ins in Cairo are a threat to national security and unacceptable. Egypt’s pro-Morsi supporters have vowed to continue with the protests despite the anticipated crackdown.

“The cabinet has decided to take all measures necessary to confront these risks and put an end to them,” said Information Minister Dorreya Sharaf el-Din in a statement on national television. 

“The continuation of the dangerous situation in Rabaa al-Adawiya and Nahda squares, and consequent terrorism and road blockages are no longer acceptable given the threat to national security,” professed Sharaf el-Din.

The military-backed cabinet stated that it has instructed the interior minister to do everything necessary and within its legal powers to break up the demonstrations, which have attracted tens of thousands of people. 

A forceful move to break up the two main pro-Morsi camps is likely to be imminent if the police follow through with the instructions. One of the primary venues being staked out by protesters is outside a mosque in eastern Cairo, with the other outside the main Cairo University campus.

Former president Mohamed Morsi was ousted by the military on July 3 following nationwide rallies against his government.

Tensions between pro-Morsi and anti-Morsi supporters will see another explosion if both follow through with their pledges. The Pro-Morsi camp insisted they would continue with their protests following the news. A spokeswoman for the US Department of State urged Egypt to respect the demonstrators’ right to peaceful assembly shortly after the signal that decisive action was to be taken against them.

"We have continued to urge the interim government to respect the right of peaceful assembly," deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf told a regular daily briefing. "That obviously includes sit-ins."

British Foreign Secretary William Hague echoed the message, describing Egypt’s call to disperse sit-ins as a “recipe for disaster.” Hague called for peaceful resolution to the conflict between the two camps in the hope of putting an end to bloodshed in Egypt during a phone conversation with Mohamed El Baradei on Wednesday.

Al Arabiya reported a blast hitting an army patrol unit in Al-Arish, North Sinai, shortly after the initial government announcement.

Relations are already deteriorating: Egypt’s current authorities have referred the Muslim Brotherhood’s leaders to court on charges of inciting violence and allegedly prompting the killing of some of the protesters. The actions against Mohammed Badie, the Brotherhood’s general guide, his deputy, and another senior leader are certain to deepen tensions between Islamists and the military.