Thousands of supporters of ousted Egyptian President Mohammad Mursi took to the streets of the coastal city of Alexandria on Thursday and others in Ismailia to call for his return to power as the country’s first democratically elected president.
Mursi’s removal after a year in office marked another twist in the turmoil that has gripped the Arab world’s most populous country in the two years since the fall of Hosni Mubarak.
Army intervention was backed by millions of Egyptians, including liberal leaders and religious figures who expect new elections under a revised set of rules.
But supporters of Dr. Mursi said they were willing to sacrifice their lives in return legitimacy.
“I want to tell everyone, the whole world, that Mursi is the legitimate president. No matter what happens, he is the legitimate president. If they want protests and a new revolution after January 25 (2011), which they don’t want to fulfil any of its demands, we will have one. Every day, you will see protests like this one,” Mohamed Hameedo of Alexandria, told Reuters TV.
Protesters chanted against Defense Minister Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and some held signs that read: “No to the Coup”.
The dramatic exit of President Mohamed Mursi was greeted with delight by millions of people on the streets of Cairo and other cities overnight, but there was simmering resentment among Egyptians who opposed military intervention.
An Islamist coalition led by the Brotherhood called on people across the nation to protest in a ‘Friday of Rejection’ following weekly prayers, an early test of Mursi’s ongoing support and how the military will deal with it.
“My opinion on yesterday’s statement from Sisi (Egyptian Defense Minister Abdel Fattah al-Sisi) is that God willing, these decisions are useless. With God’s will we are all willing to martyr ourselves and we are here today and plan to be here every day until the President’s legitimacy is returned - Dr. Mohamed Mursi’s legitimacy. We are willing to forsake our own lives for Dr. Mursi. God willing, we will continue, either to heaven or to returning legitimacy, God willing,”Al-Sayed Ezzat of Ismailia said.
The United Nations, the United States and some other world powers did not condemn Mursi’s removal as a military coup. To do so might trigger sanctions.
Egypt’s armed forces have been at the heart of power since officers staged the 1952 overthrow of King Farouk.
The protests that spurred the military to step in this time were rooted in a liberal opposition that lost elections to Islamists. Their ranks were swelled by anger over broken promises on the economy and shrinking real incomes.
The downfall of Egypt’s first elected leader, who emerged from the Arab Spring revolutions that swept the region in 2011, raised questions about the future of political Islam which only lately seemed triumphant.
Deeply divided, Egypt’s 84 million people are again a focus of concern in a region traumatized by the civil war in Syria.