19 August 2013

Egypt: Gov't Vows to Beat War of Terror Amid Lasting Reactions Overseas

Photo: RFI
Protesters in Cairo call for the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak (file photo).

Cairo — The Egyptian interim government is sounding a warning that the country is facing a war of terror, vowing to defeat it by force and law.

Egypt is facing a war waged by "terrorist forces," Egyptian presidential spokesman Mostafa Hegazi told reporters in Cairo on Saturday in reference to recent clashes between security forces and supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi across the country.

What is happening in Egypt and the protests held by Morsi's supporters were "acts of real terror," instead of a political dispute, said Hegazi.

Hegazi said pro-Morsi protesters had been "randomly shooting with machine guns, killing innocent people standing on the balconies," referring to Friday's march on 15th May Bridge where some protesters were seen carrying arms and randomly shooting around.

He also described Morsi's rule as "religious fascism" and called the practices of Morsi's supporters "religious terrorism."

"We will defeat the violence and terrorism in our battle against them ... not only by the security forces but also by the force of law and within the framework of human rights," said the presidential spokesman.

"The Muslim Brotherhood (MB) gatherings have turned from expressing opinions into inciting violence," he said, noting that the presidency has called many times upon Morsi's loyalists to listen to the voice of reasons and return home but in vain.

"Killing the officers and torching the churches in several governorates is terrorism," he said, adding that Egypt has all rights like any sovereign country to use force when necessary to deal with terrorism.

Hegazi reiterated that "not all Muslim Brotherhood members use violence," repeating calls on the MB to join the political process in the country.

After police cleared two major pro-Morsi protest camps by force on Wednesday, the MB launched a "Day of Rage" nationwide demonstration on Friday, during which, the Interior Ministry said, nearly 48 people were killed and 1,118 MB supporters were arrested.

The Alliance for Supporting Democracy, a pro-Morsi alliance which compromises 33 Islamic movements including MB, called for massive protests in Cairo and Giza governorates on Sunday. They reportedly also has called on their supporters to stage demonstrations every day in the upcoming week.

Violence re-occurred briefly on Saturday as Morsi's followers exchanged fire with security forces at a mosque in downtown Cairo, which was occupied by Morsi's backers.

A large number of Morsi's loyalists took shelter inside Al-Fatah Mosque since early Friday, after clashing with security forces to protest Wednesday's dispersal operation that left at least 578 killed and over 4,200 injured.

Egypt's security forces have managed to evacuate the mosque and taken the full control of it following successful mediation headed by the Al-Azhar, Egypt's top Sunni Islamic institution.

The developments of Egypt's domestic situation continued to trigger reactions overseas.

Tunisia's official TAP press agency reported Saturday that Tunisia's Foreign Ministry summoned on Friday evening the Egyptian ambassador in Tunis, expressing its concern over the situation in Egypt and the use of force there.

It also called for dialogue between all parties in view of preventing Egypt from "slipping into violence, division and chaos."

A bomb went off outside Egypt's consulate in Benghazi, eastern Libya on Saturday, damaging the consulate's outer wall and some nearby vehicles, the witnesses said.

The blast occurred amid a protest outside the consulate expressing support for Egypt's MB. In Libya's capital of Tripoli, similar demonstrations have been held on Algeria Square in support of the Egyptian MB's protests against the army's ouster of Morsi in early July.

Slovenia has suspended all its charter flights to Egypt due to growing tensions in the North African country. The Slovenian Foreign Ministry has earlier advised against non-essential travels to Egypt in the wake of the mounting unrest in the country.

Dozens of Egyptian nationals, mostly students, held a sit-in on Saturday near the Egyptian embassy in Algiers, protesting the recent violence in their home country and denouncing the bloody events "against the Egyptian people."

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Saturday called on Egyptian protesters and authority to exercise "maximum restraint" and "shift immediately to de-escalation."

"The secretary-general is alarmed by ongoing developments in Egypt and the widespread outbreak of violent protests and excessive use of force in handling them," said a statement issued by Ban's spokesperson.

In the statement, Ban strongly condemned attacks on churches, hospitals and other public facilities, "which he finds unacceptable."

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