General Guide Mohammed Badie, a revered figure among the Brotherhood’s followers, spoke Friday before a crowd of tens of thousands of Morsi supporters in Cairo. Just released from detention, he had been taken into custody by security forces soon after the military ousted Morsi, who hails from the Brotherhood.
Badie addressed the military, saying “your leader is Morsi” and demanding they abide by their pledge of loyalty to the president, calling it “the honor of the military”
He called on Egyptians to protest, saying “we will not be deterred by threats or detentions … or the gallows.”
“God make Morsi victorious and bring him back to the palace,” he said. “We are his soldiers we defend him with our lives.”
Badie also addressed the al-Azhar’s Imam: “You are just a symbol and you have no right to speak in the name of Muslims or in the name of Christians.”
Addressing the Pope of the Copes he said: “I ask Pope Tawadros not to speak in the name of Copts. You are just a symbol and can’t speak in their name.”
Egyptian troops open fire
Earlier, Egyptian troops opened fire on mostly Islamist protesters marching on a Republican Guard headquarters in Cairo Friday to demand the restoration of Morsi, killing at least one. The shooting came as tens of thousands of his supporters chanting “down with military rule” rallied around the country.
The shooting came when hundreds of Morsi supporters marched on the Guard building, where Morsi was staying at the time of his ouster before being taken into military custody in an unknown location. The crowd approached a barbed wire barrier where troops were standing guard around the building.
When one supporter hung a sign of Morsi on the barrier, the troops tore it down and told the crowd to stay back. A protester hung a second sign and the soldiers opened fire on the crowd, an Associated Press photographer at the scene said. Several protesters fell bloodied to the ground.
At least one had a gaping, bleeding exit wound in the back of his head. Fellow protesters carried the body into a nearby building and covered his head with a blanket, declaring him dead, according to AP Television News footage. Health Ministry official Khaled el-Khatib confirmed that one protester was killed Friday and a number wounded, but he did not know the exact number.
Protesters pelted the line of troops with stones, and the soldiers responded with volleys of tear gas, but the clashes appeared for the moment to ease with mid-afternoon prayers.
The shooting risks to escalate Egypt’s confrontation, with supporters of Morsi — largely Islamists — rejecting the army’s ousting of the country’s first freely elected president Wednesday night and installation of a new civilian administration. The protester casualties are likely to further fuel calls by some in the Islamist movement for violent retaliation.
CBC’s Nahlah Ayed said from Cairo that the violence is “precisely the kind of incident that was feared today.”
Even before the violence she said there was a great deal of anger and emotion on the streets from the Morsi supporters, who feel they have been betrayed. Some of the protesters said they would lay their life down for Morsi, but that they would prefer if the situation remained peaceful, she said.
CBC’s Derek Stoffel, also in Cairo, said the army claimed it would only be using tear gas and blank rounds during the incident.
Militant attack on airport kills soldier
The first major Islamic militant attack came before dawn Friday in the tumultuous Sinai Peninsula, killing at least one soldier. Masked assailants launched a co-ordinated attack with rockets, rocket-propelled grenades and anti-aircraft guns on the airport in el-Arish, the provincial capital of northern Sinai, as well as a security forces camp in Rafah on the border with Gaza and five other military and police posts, sparking nearly four hours of clashes.
One of military’s top commanders, Gen. Ahmed Wasfi arrived at el-Arish on Friday to lead operations there as the army declared a “war on terrorism” in Sinai. A crowd of Morsi supporters tried to storm the governor’s office in the city but were dispersed by security forces.
The Brotherhood called for Friday’s protests, which took place at several sites around the capital and in other cities. Brotherhood officials underlined strongly to their followers that their rallies should be peaceful.
A crowd of tens of thousands of Morsi supporters filled much of a broad boulevard outside a Cairo mosque several blocks away from the Republican Guard headquarters, vowing to remain in place until Morsi is restored. The protesters railed against what they called the return of the regime of autocrat Hosni Mubarak, ousted in early 2011.
“The old regime has come back … worse than before,” said Ismail Abdel-Mohsen, an 18-year-old student among the crowds outside the Rabia al-Adawiya Mosque. He dismissed the new interim head of state sworn in a day earlier, senior judge Adly Mansour, as “the military puppet.”
“After sunset, President Morsi will be back in the palace,” they chanted. “The people want God’s law. Islamic, Islamic, whether the army likes it or not.”
Crackdown on Muslim Brotherhood
The military forced Morsi out Wednesday after millions of Egyptians turned out in four days of protests demanding his removal and saying he had squandered his electoral mandate by putting power in the hands of his own Muslim Brotherhood and other, harder-line Islamists. In the 48 hours since, the military has moved against the Brotherhood’s senior leadership, putting Morsi under detention and arresting the group’s supreme leader and a string of other figures.
On Friday, Mansour dissolved the country’s interim parliament — the upper house of the legislature, which was overwhelmingly dominated by Islamists and Morsi allies. The Shura Council, which normally does not legislate, held legislative powers under Morsi’s presidency because the lower house had been dissolved. State Tv reported Mansour’s constitutional decree dissolving the body but did not give further details.
Mansour also named the head of General Intelligence, Rafaat Shehata, as his security adviser.
Morsi supporters say the military has wrecked Egypt’s democracy by carrying out a coup against an elected leader. They accuse Mubarak loyalists and liberal and secular opposition parties of turning to the army for help because they lost at the polls to Islamists.
But many supporters have equally seen it as a conspiracy against Islam.
Many at Friday’s protests held copies of the Qur’an in the air, and much of the crowd had the long beards of ultraconservative men or encompassing black robes and veils worn by women, leaving only the eyes visible. One protester shouted that the sheik of Al-Azhar — Egypt’s top Muslim cleric who backed the military’s move — was “an agent of the Christians” — reflecting a sentiment that the Christian minority was behind Morsi’s ouster.
The protesters set up “self-defence” teams, with men staffing checkpoints touting sticks and home-made body shields. There was no significant presence of military forces near the protests.
In southern Egypt, Islamists attacked the main church in the city of Qena on Friday. In the town of Dabaiya near the city of Luxor, a mob torched houses of Christians, sending dozens of Christians seeking shelter in a police station. Clashes broke out Friday in at least two cities in the Nile Delta between pro- and anti-Morsi demonstrators.
Extremist groups who gained considerable influence during Morsi’s year in office have threatened to lash out with a campaign of violence.
Islamic militants hold a powerful sway in the lawless and chaotic northern Sinai. They are heavily armed with weapons smuggled from Libya and have links with militants in the neighbouring Gaza Strip, run by Hamas. After the attack, Egypt indefinitely closed its border crossing into Gaza, sending 200 Palestinians back into the territory, said Gen. Sami Metwali, director of Rafah passage.
The night before, the military spokesman issued a statement urging all protesters to remain peaceful. In a message to Morsi’s opponents, Col. Ahmed Mohammed Ali warned against “gloating,” vengeance or attacks on Brotherhood offices, saying there must not be an “endless cycle of revenge.”
The military has a “strong will to ensure national reconciliation, constructive justice and tolerance,” he wrote in an official Facebook posting. He said the army and security forces will not take “any exceptional or arbitrary measures” against any political group.
But the Brotherhood has been furious over the arrests of its top leaders, as well as the closure of its TV station Misr25, its newspaper, and three other Islamist television stations. It called to move a return to Egypt’s ” dark, repressive, dictatorial and corrupt ages.”
“We refuse to participate in any activities with the usurping authorities,” the Brotherhood said in a statement, read Thursday by senior cleric Abdel-Rahman el-Barr to the crowd outside the Rabia al-Adawiya Mosque.