Pro-Morsi protesters were 'terrorising people': Presidential advisor

Ahram Online , Thursday 22 Aug 2013

Presidential adviser Mostafa Hegazy claims the dispersal of sit-ins was lawful

Egypt's roadmap to democracy is still on course and the overthrow of elected Islamist president Mohamed Morsi was based on a popular rather than a parliamentary mandate, a presidential advisor said on Wednesday.

In his first television interview on Wednesday, Mostafa Hegazy criticised "armed" protests by supporters of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi for "terrorising people."

Egypt has witnessed a period of deadly violence as police forcibly cleared two pro-Morsi protest camps in Cairo last week, leaving hundreds dead, sparking days of bloody clashes, and pitting Islamists against security forces. Around 900 people have been killed across the country over the past week, although exact figures have yet to be confirmed by official sources.

"The Brotherhood's disaffected young rank and file has been mobilised through blackmail exercised by their leaders to coax them into taking to the streets in order to allegedly defend Islam," Hegazy said.

He claimed the interim government had liaised with members of the Muslim Brotherhood in attempts to reach a peaceful solution to the standoff between protesters and security forces, but that attempts failed due to the reluctance of the Brotherhood.

Condemning all forms of bloodshed, Hegazy described the pro-Morsi protest camps as a “national security threat” and said that they had been dispersed by police “gradually” and in accordance with regulations.

On 14 August, police first warned protesters to leave the camps then fired teargas and used water cannons. Confrontations ensued between armed protesters and security forces. Over 300 people were killed at Rabaa Al-Adawiya, the larger protest camp, during dispersal operations, according to a recent statement by Human Rights Watch.

Hegazy went on to say that all international mediation efforts had failed to reach a negotiated political solution to a six-week stalemate between Islamists and the interim government. He claimed the once-ruling Islamist current was backed and linked to Western powers.

Asked about a visit by a group of Western and Arab envoys to Muslim Brotherhood leader Khairat El-Shater, Hegazy claimed the government counseled a visit to the movement's chief Mohamed Badie who was not detained at the time.  However, the delegation opted for El-Shater, deputy leader and key political strategist of the Muslim Brotherhood, claiming he was the group's “top man.”

Both El-Shater and Badie are now in custody, as dozens of the group's prominent members have been rounded up as part of the country's crackdown on the upper echelons of the Brotherhood following the ouster of Islamist president Morsi.

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