Islamist supporters of Egypt’s ousted President Mohammad Mursi called for mass rallies on Friday, raising fears of renewed violence as the government threatened to use force to break up their sit-ins in Cairo.
The call came as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry lent support to the military-led overthrow of Mursi, saying the move had been requested by millions.
Kerry’s comments are the closest Washington has come to publicly embracing the July 3 coup that toppled Mursi.
“The military was asked to intervene by millions and millions of people, all of whom were afraid of a descendance into chaos, into violence,” Kerry told Pakistan’s Geo television:
“And the military did not take over, to the best of our judgment -- so far. To run the country, there’s a civilian government. In effect, they were restoring democracy,” he added.
Allaa Mostafa, a spokeswoman for the pro-Mursi Anti Coup Alliance, told AFP that demonstrators would “continue our sit-ins and our peaceful protests” against what she termed a “coup d’etat.”
The government had warned Mursi’s supporters on Thursday to abandon their Cairo protest camps, promising them a safe exit if they gave up without a fight.
The call by Interior Ministry spokesman Hany AbdelLatif followed the government’s declaration on Wednesday it was ready to take action to end two weeks of sit-in protests by thousands of Mursi supporters at two sites, according to Reuters.
European Union envoy Bernardino Leon, who has been trying to defuse political tensions on a trip to Cairo, said the EU would not easily accept the use of violence to break up the protest camp and that such action would have to be explained to the international community, Al-Hayat television station reported.
It quoted him as saying efforts should be made to reach apolitical solution by reaching out to moderates on both sides.
Following the ouster of Mursi on July 3, several leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood its allied Islamist groups were arrested and charged with inciting violence.
Mursi’s supporters urge mass rallies amid fears of violence