EU’s top diplomat, Baroness Ashton, in ‘friendly’ talks with ousted Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi, as protests continue

The deposed president’s detention goes on, as his supporters suffer violence

Cairo

For nearly a month, deposed President Mohamed Morsi has been held under military detention while scores of his Muslim Brotherhood supporters were gunned down in his name.

Today, the former Egyptian leader received his first visit from the outside world when Catherine Ashton, the EU’s top diplomat, was granted access in order to push for a negotiated solution to Egypt’s deepening crisis.

According to Baroness Ashton, the EU’s foreign policy chief, Mr Morsi is “well” and the two had a “friendly, open and very frank” discussion.

She revealed Egypt’s most high-profile detainee had been allowed by his captors to peruse the Egyptian newspapers – most of which have for the past three weeks been printing smears portraying the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organisation.

“We were able to talk about the situation and we were able to talk about the need to move forward,” she said, but refused to reveal any more details about the conversation. Oddly, she said that she had been able to see the facility where Mr Morsi is being held – but still did not know where he was. The former President has been held incommunicado since being ousted on 3 July.

On Friday prosecutors announced that he was facing a series of criminal charges relating to an alleged conspiracy involving the Palestinian group Hamas. The case concerns a jailbreak in the early days of the 2011 uprising when Mr Morsi was sprung from jail.

Baroness Ashton’s visit is her second to Cairo since the coup – which was backed by large-scale protests – earlier this month. Along with senior figures from the Muslim Brotherhood, she held discussions with members of the interim government and General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Egypt’s top military commander and coup leader. In recent weeks the general has gained a loyal following among Egyptians who have warmed to his increasingly strident profile. Ever since he delivered last week’s speech calling for a popular mandate to crack down on “terrorism”, observers have been expecting a strike against members of the Brotherhood.

Scores of Islamists have already been massacred by troops and security personnel in separate attacks this month, yet many Egyptians appear either unconcerned or accuse the Brotherhood of provocation.

Amal Sharaf, an activist who met Baroness Ashton on Monday, is a leading member of the April 6 youth movement, the influential protest group which helped spearhead the 2011 revolt. She told The Independent that in her eyes the Brotherhood was a “terrorist” organisation. “The army is doing its best to try and stop violence,” she said. “There are not many people that would accept having an armed sit-in in their country,” she added, referring to accusations that pro-Morsi protesters habitually carry weapons.

Baroness Ashton’s visit is designed to bridge the widening chasm between Egypt’s warring factions, but the growing enmity makes such a prospect increasingly difficult. The walls of the British embassy in Cairo are currently scrawled with graffiti labelling Gen al-Sisi a traitor – a mark of how deeply betrayed many Brotherhood supporters feel about the recent course of events. There are Reports of men being attacked or abused for growing long, Islamist-style beards. Ahmed al-Anani, a member of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, told The Independent how a female friend was insulted recently and called a faajira, or whore, as she drove past a pro-Morsi rally with uncovered hair.

“What’s happening in society now is this type of polarisation,” he said, “where people think that anyone who is from the Brotherhood or who has a beard is a terrorist. This is totally unacceptable. This is why the solution cannot be a security solution. The  solution has to be political.”

News
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Sport
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Sport
Louis van Gaal would have been impressed with Darren Fletcher’s performance against LA Galaxy during Manchester United’s 7-0 victory
football
Voices
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Sport
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
sport
News
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
life
Sport
Rhys Williams
commonwealth games
News
Isis fighters travel in a vehicle as they take part in a military parade along the streets of Syria's northern Raqqa province
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Life and Style
fashionLatex dresses hit the catwalk to raise awareness for HIV and Aids
Travel
travel
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Systems Manager - Dynamics AX

£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...

Service Delivery Manager (Software Development, Testing)

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established software house ba...

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform