LATEST: Egypt — Head of Military El-Sissi “Morsi Was Not a President for all Egyptians”
Aerial View of Pro-Morsi Rally at Rabaa El-Adewaya Square on Friday
In contrast to last week, when Egyptian security forces killed more than 80 supporters of deposed President Morsi, Friday’s protests and rallies took place with little violence.
Many thousands of pro-Morsi protesters marched in Cairo and across Egypt, holding placards of the ousted President and chanting for the July 3 coup to be reversed.
The only notable clash was at Media Production City outside the capital: police fired tear gas at a march, claiming that it was blocking traffic. State media asserted that protesters responded with birdshot, injuring two police officers. One protester was injured by birdshot, and 31 were arrested.
Meanwhile, demonstrators at pro-Morsi sit-ins at major squares in and near Cairo, including Rabaa El-Adewaya and Nahda Squares, defied Government warnings this week that orders have been given to security forces to disperse the gatherings. The squares were filled by early afternoon on Friday, despite sweltering heat, but police and the military made no move to disrupt the rallies.
The head of Egypt’s armed forces, Abdel Fattah El-Sissi has told The Washington Post in a two-hour interview that deposed President Mohamed Morsi was “not a president for all Egyptians, but a president representing his followers and supporters”.
El-Sissi insisted that the military had to remove Morsi on July 3, “I expected if we didn’t intervene, it would have turned into a civil war.”
The general criticised the Muslim Brotherhood, the major force behind the Morsi Government, “The idea that gathers them together is not nationalism, it’s not patriotism, it is not a sense of a country.”
And he had a message for Washington: “The US administration has a lot of leverage and influence with the Muslim Brotherhood, and I’d really like the US administration to use this leverage with them to resolve the conflict.”
Supporters of deposed President Mohamed Morsi have told envoys from the US and the European Union that they respect the demands of a mass protest that contributed to his downfall, but they want the restoration of the Constitution and the exclusion of the head of armed forces, Abdel Fattah El-Sissi, from any political deal.
Tarek El-Malt, spokesman for the pro-Morsi delegation, said that if Morsi’s opponents insist he should not be part of the “political equation”, then “the steadfastness and sit-ins of the millions in the streets for five weeks requires that Sissi must also not be in the political equation”.
Asked whether the delegation had insisted on Morsi’s reinstatement, Malt said, “We did not get into the details of the political initiatives”.
The group met with US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns, US Ambassador Anne Patterson, and European Union special envoy Bernardino Leon.