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
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete tomorrow
Arts and Entertainment
Gay and OK: a scene from 'Pride'
filmsUS film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
News
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
Arts and Entertainment
Hilary North's 'How My Life Has Changed', 2001
booksWell it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Magic roundabouts: the gyratory system that has excited enthusiasts in Swindon
motoringJust who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Sport
footballManchester City 1 Roma 1: Result leaves Premier League champions in danger of not progressing
Life and Style
The new Windows 10 Start Menu
tech
Travel
Bruce Chatwin's novel 'On the Black Hill' was set at The Vision Farm
travelOne of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
News
Kim Jong Un gives field guidance during his inspection of the Korean People's Army (KPA) Naval Unit 167
newsSouth Korean reports suggest rumours of a coup were unfounded
News
i100
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

Commercial Litigation NQ+

Very Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: NORTH HAMPSHIRE NQ to MID LEVEL - An e...

MANCHESTER - SENIOR COMMERCIAL LITIGATION -

Highly Attractive Pakage: Austen Lloyd: MANCHESTER - A highly attractive oppor...

Senior Marketing Manager - Central London - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (Campaigns, Offlin...

Head of Marketing - Acquisition & Direct Reponse Marketing

£90000 - £135000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Marketing (B2C, Acquisition...

Day In a Page

Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?