Egypt’s Al-Azhar Grand Imam Ahmed El-Tayyeb urged the Muslim Brotherhood to accept “peaceful solution” talks as a way out of the deadly chaos that erupted following last week’s crackdown on their anti-government sit-ins that killed hundreds.
“Violence does not bring rights to anyone. Legitimacy is not won by bloodshed or spreading chaos,” El-Tayyeb said in a televised statement late on Saturday.
“We are confident that there is still a chance, hope and a place for many of you of who were not proven to have incited violence to seek peace and start talks for a peaceful solution,” he added.
All Egyptians should be included in determining the future of their country, without excluding any faction, he asserted, adding that in any case everyone should abide by the law.
Likewise, Prime Minister Hazem El-Beblawi, said on Saturday: "We aim for reconciliation, but not with those whose hands are smeared with blood, not with those who raised arms against the state, its institutions and people. There is no reconciliation with those who broke the law."
No official invitations from the government for reconciliation talks have been made public, however.
The presidency called Brotherhood sit-ins, which were staged for over six-weeks calling for deposed president Mohamed Morsi’s reinstatement, "non-peaceful," justifying its use of force to disperse them.
A film broadcast at a government-organised press conference on Saturday stressed that protesters at the Rabaa Al-Adawiya Mosque sit-in in east Cairo, was “determined to set society ablaze."
"Egypt has no other choice but to fight terrorism," concludes the film, which had highlighted the failed political attempts to end the deadlock peacefully.
"The intransigence of the Muslim Brotherhood prevented a peaceful end.”
Before the dispersals, unofficial efforts were made to mediate between the Brotherhood and the interim government for a peaceful solution. Al-Azhar itself, the Sunni Muslim world's authority, called for a meeting with all political forces to discuss a solution to the crisis.
However, the Brotherhood continued to call for Morsi’s return as a condition for any negotiations. Its spokesman Gehad El-Haddad told Reuters a day before the violent dispersal of the sit-ins that Al-Azhar was yet to extend any invitation to it.
Over 600 people were killed and thousands injured when the police dispersed the two major pro-Morsi Islamist sit-ins in Cairo on Wednesday.
In the wake of the event, the National Alliance to Support legitimacy, a pro-Morsi coalition led by the Brotherhood, vowed to rally every day to protest the killings and the “coup” it said that army staged when it deposed Morsi on 3 July amid mass demonstrations against him.
In the violence that ensued over the past few days, over 170 people were killed nationwide, 95 in downtown Cairo clashes on Friday, Health Minister Maha El-Rabat announced on Saturday on state television.
Police stations, churches and public property came under attack. Guns were reportedly fired by some protesters and other citizens in the clashes.
Egypt’s interior ministry announced that it would open live fire against anyone who attempts to attack police institutions.
In his televised statement El-Tayyeb also called on Egypt’s armed forces to protect the lives of the Egyptian people and asked them “to exercise patience” with protesters. In addition, he stressed that churches and all religious houses should be protected.
“Al-Azhar continually asserts the sanctity of churches and that any assaults against them are unrelated to Islam in any way,” he said addressing Egypt’s Christian population as dozens of churches and Christian property were attacked in the violence.
“You know that attempts to drag the country into sectarian strife... will fail,” he added.