Egypt unrest: Leaders plan strike against Muslim Brotherhood as Cairo protest branded threat to national security

Almost 300 people have been killed in weeks of violence since the army deposed the former president

Cairo

Egyptian authorities gave the strongest indication yet that security forces were preparing a strike against the Muslim Brotherhood - announcing in a televised statement that the group's month-long Cairo sit-in was a threat to 'national security' and would soon be ended.

The statement, which was issued by the country's interim cabinet, prompted fears that of another deadly confrontation between authorities and Muslim Brotherhood supporters.

The move against the sit-in protest came as it emerged that Egypt's prosecutors have referred three of the Brotherhood's most senior figures for trial.

They include the group's revered Supreme Guide, Mohamed Badie, along with his deputy Khairat al-Shater and senior leader Rashad Bayoumi. All three are wanted for charges related to inciting violence.

At least 300 people have been killed in nationwide clashes since the June 30 - the date the former president Mohamed Morsi was toppled by an army-led coup. The dead include scores of Islamists who have been gunned down during two separate massacres within the space of three weeks - more than 80 of whom were killed on Sunday when police tried to disperse the sit-in at Rabaa.

The developments raised fears that an anti-Islamist crackdown - which has been anticipated by many since an ominous speech by General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Egypt's top military commander public face of the coup, last week - is now imminent.

During its televised address, the interim cabinet said that “terrorist acts” and continued traffic disruption were no longer acceptable and “represent a threat to Egyptian national security”.

It added: “The cabinet decided to begin taking all necessary measures to address these dangers and put an end to them, commissioning the interior minister to do all that is necessary regarding this matter within the framework of the constitution and the law.”

Since the first day of the June 30 revolt, tens of thousands of Mr Morsi's supporters have been maintaining a vigil from two giant tent encampments in separate parts of the city.

The largest, in the suburb of Nasr City in eastern Cairo, has often been filled with tens of thousands of people.

The vast majority of them appear adamant that they will not leave the streets until Mohamed Morsi is reinstated as President - an impossible demand for the Brotherhood's opponents to recognise. Any attempt to clear so many protesters by force would turn into a bloodbath.

This evening [WED] Gehad el-Haddad, a spokesman for the Brotherhood, remained resolute in his assurance that Mr Morsi's supporters would not melt away. “We don't recognise this government and we don't recognise the authorities or the laws they represent,” he told Reuters.

Speaking to The Independent, a pro-Morsi activist said he was not afraid of the impending crackdown. “How much worse can it get?” asked Mohamed Soltan, referring to the two massacres which took place this month. “The government doesn't understand that blood is the fuel and fire of revolutions.”

Egypt has become dangerously polarised over the course of the past month. Many people - spurred on by a resolutely anti-Brotherhood media - have begun to think of the Islamists camped in Nasr City as little more than a gang of would-be militants.

Statements from the military and television presenters have roused a collective fear of the national “terrorist” threat - conflating a genuine problem of Islamic militancy in North Sinai with scaremongering aimed at followers of Mohamed Morsi.

“The pro-Morsi protest is not a sit-in,” said Haitham al-Shawaf, a member of a youth revolutionary group. “The people there are not protesters, they are militants.”

In a bid to counter the increasingly trenchant rhetoric emerging from both sides, a group calling itself the Third Square movement has occupied yet another plaza in eastern Cairo with a view to rejecting both the influence of the military and the Muslim Brotherhood.

Yet in a sign of how little traction is being gained by appeals to moderation, the campaign has already earned the opprobrium of Tamarod, the youth movement which spearheaded the June 30 revolt.

The group's spokesman, Mohamed Abdul Aziz, said Third Square was “dividing the people”, adding: “They are living in the past. Now is the time for consensus, we need to move forward.”

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Arts and Entertainment
Highs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
News
news
New Articles
i100... with this review
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Cover Supervisor

£75 - £90 per day + negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Are you a cover supe...

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam