Egypt Protests: Government Arrests Muslim Brotherhood Members After Day Of Violence

08/17/2013 04:26 am ET | Updated Oct 17, 2013

By Crispian Balmer and Yasmine Saleh

CAIRO, Aug 17 (Reuters) - Egyptian authorities rounded up more than 1,000 Islamists as the Muslim Brotherhood leadership defiantly called a week of nationwide protests starting on Saturday after a day of carnage.

After Friday's bloodshed in which more than 100 people died in clashes that pushed Egypt ever closer to anarchy, tensions were high with supporters of ousted Islamist President Mohamed Mursi in a Cairo mosque where bodies had been taken during the violence, while security forces were stationed outside.

The interior ministry said that 1,004 Muslim Brotherhood "elements" had been arrested, accusing members of Mursi's movement of committing acts of terrorism during the clashes, which took the deathtoll to 700 since Wednesday.

The Brotherhood, which ruled Egypt for a year until the army removed Mursi on July 3, urged its supporters back onto the streets to denounce the military takeover and the subsequent crackdown on followers of the nation's first freely-elected president.

"Our rejection of the coup regime has become an Islamic, national and ethical obligation that we can never abandon," said the Brotherhood, which has accused the military of plotting the downfall of Mursi last month to regain the levers of power.

Many Western allies have denounced the killings, including the United States, but Saudi Arabia threw its weight behind the army-backed government on Friday, accusing its old foe the Muslim Brotherhood of trying to destabilise Egypt.

Violence erupted across Egypt after the Brotherhood, which has deep roots in the provinces, called for a "Day of Rage". Roughly 50 people died in Cairo and more that 20 in the country's second city, Alexandria, security sources said.

Automatic gunfire echoed around the capital throughout Friday afternoon, army helicopters swooped over the roof tops and at least one office block was set ablaze, lighting up the night sky long after the violence had subsided.

The Brotherhood announced a series of daily rallies over the next six days, starting on Saturday.

"We will not leave the squares. And we will not be silent over our rights, ever," said Cairo resident Abdullah Abdul Fattah, adding that he was not a Brotherhood voter.

"We are here because of our brothers who died," he said.

An interim cabinet, installed by the army after it removed Mursi during rallies against his often chaotic rule, has refused to back down. It has authorised police to use live ammunition to defend themselves and state installations.


After weeks of futile, political mediation, police moved on Wednesday to clear two Brotherhood protest sit-ins in Cairo. Almost 600 people, most of them Islamists, were killed in the mayhem. With no compromise in sight, the most populous Arab nation - which is often seen as leading events in the entire region - looks increasingly polarised and angry.

"Egypt fighting terrorism," said a new logo plastered on state television, reflecting tougher language in the local media that was once reserved for militant groups such as al Qaeda.

The government said in a statement it was confronting the "Muslim Brotherhood's terrorist plan".

Undermining Brotherhood pledges of peaceful resistance, armed men were seen firing from the ranks of pro-Mursi supporters in Cairo on Friday. A security official said at least 24 policemen had died over the past 24 hours, and 15 police stations attacked.

The Brotherhood suggested the gunmen had been planted by the security forces, saying it remained committed to non-violence.

Witnesses also said Mursi backers had ransacked a Catholic church and set fire to an Anglican church in the city of Malawi. The Brotherhood, which has been accused of inciting anti-Christian sentiment, denies targeting churches.

Christians make up roughly 10 percent of Egypt's 84-million population and the Coptic Church authority issued a statement on Friday saying it "strongly supports the Egyptian police and armed forces".

The streets of Cairo fell quiet after nightfall, with the government warning the dusk-to-dawn curfew would be vigorously enforced. Neighbourhood watch schemes sprouted up, and residents stopped and searched cars driving past their communities.

Egypt has lurched from one crisis to another since the downfall of the autocratic Hosni Mubarak in 2011, dealing repeated blows to the economy, particularly tourism.

A number of tour operators have suspended all holidays to Egypt until at least next month and the United States has urged its citizens to leave the country.

The European Union asked its states to consider "appropriate measures" to take in reaction to the violence, while Germany said it was reconsidering its ties. (Additional reporting by Michael Georgy, Alexander Dziadosz, Tom Finn, Yasmine Saleh, Mohamed Abdellah, Ahmed Tolba and Omar Fahmy in Cairo, Writing by Crispian Balmer; Editing by David Stamp)

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Pope Calls For Peace

According to a statement by the Vatican press office, Pope Francis "continues to follow with growing concern the serious news coming from Egypt and continues to pray for end to violence, and that the parties choose the path of dialogue and reconciliation."

The Coptic Orthodox Church in Egypt also released a statement:

The Coptic orthodox church of Egypt is following closely the unfortunate incidences occurring in our nation Egypt and confirms its strong stance with the Egyptian law enforcement, the armed forces, and all of the institutions of the Egyptian people in its confrontation of the violent armed organizations, dark terrorists, both internal and external, the attacks on the government offices as well as our peaceful churches which are terrorizing our citizens both Coptic and Muslim.

These actions stand against all religions, morality, and humanity. We commend the stance of the friendly and loyal countries who understand the nature of these turns of events and we strongly denounce the erroneous reporting that is being broadcasted in the western media. We invite them to review the actual events subjectively instead of legitimizing these bloody terrorist organizations and all its affiliations with international support and political protection while they are attempting to spread devastation and destruction in our dear nation. We only request that the international and western media please report an valid account of the events with accuracy, truth, and honesty.

We send our condolences for all the victims and martyrs of duty that gave their lives, and we pray for the recovery of all the injured and afflicted. We persevere in our strong national unity and repulse any attempts to polarize our nation into a secular conflict. We absolutely reject any complete or even partial foreign interference in the internal national affairs of Egypt and as the hands of evil are extended to burn, kill and destroy; but the hands of God are nearer to protect, strengthen, and build. We have full confidence in the divine intervention that will navigate the Egyptian people in the delicate time of our history to a better tomorrow and a brighter future that will be filled with justice, peace, and democracy that the people of the Nile Valley deserve.

Long live Egypt, free and proud.

The Coptic Orthodox Church of Egypt

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