July 3, 2013

Head of ousted president's party, deputy, arrested in Egypt

The Associated Press

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Opponents of Egypt's Islamist President Mohammed Morsi shout slogans and wave a national flags in Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt, on Wednesday. The Arabic says, "leave."

The Associated Press

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An Egyptian opposition protester is beaten by supporters of Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi, as a main raises a brick overhead, in downtown Damietta, Egypt, on Wednesday.

The Associated Press

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Morsi's Islamist supporters have vowed to resist what they call a coup against democracy, and have also taken to the streets by the tens of thousands. Still, at the Rabia al-Adawiya Mosque, their main rally, some sought to depict the soldiers sealing off the nearby streets as on their side. They handed them flags, took pictures with them and chanted, "The army and people are one hand."

At least 39 people have been killed in clashes since Sunday, raising fears of further bloodshed. Egypt was mostly peaceful on Wednesday, with the only report of violence coming from the Nile Delta city of Kafr el-Sheikh where supporters and opponents of Morsi clashed. At least 200 people were injured there, but no fatalities.

Earlier in the day, the head of the army, Defense Minister Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, met with leading reform advocate Mohammed ElBaradei, Egypt's top Muslim cleric – Al-Azhar Sheik Ahmed el-Tayeb – and Coptic Pope Tawadros II to discuss its political road map, a spokesman for the senior opposition National Democratic Front, Khaled Daoud, said on state TV.

Also attending were a representative of the new youth movement behind this week's protests and some members of the ultraconservative Salafi movements, a Defense Ministry official told The Associated Press. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

A travel ban was put on Morsi and the head of his Muslim Brotherhood, Mohammed Badie, as well as Badie's deputy Khairat el-Shater, according to officials at the airport, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the press.

Also banned from leaving the country were the Brotherhood's former leader Mahdi Akef, senior Brotherhood figure Mohammed el-Beltagi, a major Salafi preacher close to the Brotherhood Safwat Hegazy and the leader of the Islamist Wasat party Abou Ela Madi and his deputy Essam Sultan.

In a last-minute statement before the deadline, Morsi again rejected the military's intervention, saying abiding by his electoral legitimacy was the only way to prevent violence. He criticized the military for "taking only one side."

"One mistake that cannot be accepted, and I say this as president of all Egyptians, is to take sides," he said in the statement issued by his office. "Justice dictates that the voice of the masses from all squares should be heard," he said, repeating his offer to hold dialogue with his opponents.

The free electing of a president had been one of the aspirations of the 2011 revolt that toppled Mubarak. Morsi's opponents say they want to remove a president who has lost his legitimacy by trying to monopolize power with Islamists – even if it takes army intervention to bring in new leadership and put the country on a more democratic path.

But on his Facebook page, Morsi's top foreign policy adviser Essam al-Haddad wrote, "For the sake of Egypt and for historical accuracy, let's call what is happening by its real name: Military coup."

At the main pro-Morsi rally in Cairo, thousands of his Islamist supporters chanted, "Wake up el-Sissi, Morsi is my president."

"We will not bring back the military rule," they chanted outside the Rabia al-Adawiya Mosque. "Will not happen, will not happen," they shouted.

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Supporters of Egypt's Islamist President Mohammed Morsi chant slogans during a rally in Nasser City, Cairo, Egypt, on Wednesday. The green card with Arabic reads, "stay where you are."

The Associated Press


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