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Unrest in Egypt

Eyptian President Mohamed Morsy is facing a polarized country as supporters and opponents of his government clashed in the streets. The army ordered that Morsey form a coalition government by July 3 or face the prospect of a coup.

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CAIRO, Egypt (CNN) – Top Egyptian security officials defended army and police actions in the clashes Monday in Cairo that led to the deaths of more than 40 people, saying they were defending the Republican Guard headquarters against attackers.

The Health Ministry put the number of fatalities at 42 and said 322 others were wounded when Egyptian security forces clashed with supporters of deposed President Mohamed Morsy and the Muslim Brotherhood outside the headquarters.

Witnesses said the military and police fired as protesters took a break from holding a vigil at the Republican Guard headquarters to say their dawn prayers. Morsy was reportedly detained in the building after his arrest Wednesday.

Celebrations in Cairo after Morsi oustedBut Interior Ministry spokesman Hani Abdel-Latif and army spokesman Col. Ahmed Mohammed Ali said security forces were under attack. Ali said that around 4 a.m. “an armed group” used bombs, rocks and bullets to attack the area and the people safeguarding the headquarters building.

Speaking to reporters, the officers said it’s the job of the security forces to protect protesters. But, they said, what unfolded was an assault and they had to embark on defending the institution.

Ali sloughed off claims from the pro-Morsy opposition, such as the killing of children, and warned of “lying,” “rumors,” and “psychological warfare.” Video meant to support the security forces’ position was shown at the news conference. They seemed to show a few protesters who may have had firearms, but the context of the images is hard to discern.

Speaking about the presence of children before dawn, Ali asked what kind of people would bring their children to that location at such a time.

For more on this CNN story, click here.

CAIRO (CNN) – Violence erupted here Friday as people demonstrated in support of and in opposition to Wednesday’s military coup, which ousted the nation’s first democratically elected president.

One person was killed and seven were injured when a group of armed men attacked a police station in Haram, a neighborhood of Giza in greater Cairo, a spokesman for the health ministry said.

At least 10 people were injured in clashes between supporters of former President Mohamed Morsy and residents in the city of Damanhour, about 160 kilometers (100 miles) northwest of Cairo, Egyptian state broadcaster Nile TV said Friday.

A number of Morsy supporters were wounded by gunshots as they tried to storm the Republican Guard headquarters in Cairo, state broadcaster Nile TV said Friday.

Outside Cairo University, throngs of pro-Morsy demonstrators formed human chains as others participating in a sit-in shouted, “Police are thugs!”

CNN

From BBC

One officer told CNN that all troops had been pulled from streets leading to the sit-in so as not to provoke demonstrators and to avoid clashes. None of the army troops seen there in the past two days were present.

Demonstrators said they were angry they were not getting coverage from local TV, especially after the Islamist channels were closed.

At nearby Tahrir Square, supporters of the new government held their own demonstration.

The counter demonstrations occurred as the African Union announced Friday that it has suspended Egypt from its ranks of member countries.

For more on this CNN story, click here.

 Cairo, Egypt (CNN) — Egypt’s top prosecutor opened an investigation Thursday into claims that Mohamed Morsy and top leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood incited violence and the killing of protesters, a day after the military ousted the country’s first democratically elected president.

The prosecutor, Gen. Abdel Maquid Mahmoud, issued an order preventing Morsy and 35 others from leaving the country while they are under investigation, state-run Middle East News Agency and EgyNews reported.

The news came as Egypt’s security forces moved to arrest leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood who supported Morsy’s rule and to silence their communications outlets.

Muslim Brotherhood spokesman Gehad El-Haddad told CNN that Morsy was initially under house arrest at the presidential Republican Guard headquarters in Cairo and later moved to the Ministry of Defense; the military has not commented on Morsy’s whereabouts.

The news from MENA and EgyNews appear to contradict reports that Morsy refused an offer by the armed forces to leave Egypt for Qatar, Turkey or Yemen. The state-run newspaper Al-Ahram reported Thursday Morsy would not step down voluntarily and that his speech Wednesday — shortly before his ouster — represented a “flagrant challenge to (the military’s) authority” and a “declaration of confrontation with it.”

A spokesman for Morsy’s Freedom and Justice Party said that what started as a military coup was “turning into something much more.”

In an interview in Cairo, El-Haddad cited the arrests as “very, very questionable attempts by the military to dismantle the Brotherhood.”

He added, “This is a military coup that’s establishing an oppressive new regime under the whitewashed face of the old regime.”

The military should not take political sides, he said. Though he had had no direct communications with Morsy, sympathizers within the military were giving information to the Brotherhood, he said.

The former chairman of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mahdi Aakef, and his bodyguards were arrested Thursday in Cairo with four weapons in their possession, according to MENA, which cited security sources.

And Muslim Brotherhood supreme leader Mohamed Badei and the former supreme leader Mohamed Mahdi Akef have been arrested, Egyptian state broadcaster Nile TV said Thursday.

Badei was arrested for “incitement to murder,” according to the arrest report cited by Al-Ahram.

Police are seeking another 300 members of the Muslim Brotherhood, Al-Ahram reported.

On Wednesday, police closed the studios of pro-Muslim Brotherhood television stations Misr 25, The People and al-Hafez and arrested some of the journalists, according to Al-Ahram.

Sporadic violence

Despite the moves against the Brotherhood, the military suggested Thursday it would protect the movement’s members. It said it would not allow any attacks or intimidation against those who belong to an Islamic group, state-run Nile TV reported.

Even so, sporadic violence at times pitted Morsy’s supporters against the opposition and the military, raising fears of spiraling unrest.

Clashes were reported at a pro-Morsy rally Thursday in the northern city of Zagazig, Nile TV reported, citing security officials. Thirty-two people were killed Wednesday in clashes in Egypt, officials told Nile TV. Hundreds more were reported to have been injured.

On its website, the Muslim Brotherhood declared “our unequivocal rejection of the military coup against the elected president and the will of the nation and refuse to participate in any action with the authority that stole the power and dealt violently with peaceful demonstrators.”

It added, “Mohamed Morsy, president of Egypt, stresses that the measures that were announced by the General Command of the Armed Forces represent a full-fledged military coup which is unacceptable by every free person.”

It called on demonstrators to show restraint.

The moves against the organization came as an uncertain new political order began to take shape with the swearing in of an interim president as well as the constitution’s suspension on Wednesday.

State-run Al-Ahram News reported that Egypt’s stock market surged 7% in the first hours of trading Thursday to a near two-month high.

Coup divides Egypt

The coup divided the millions of people who had taken to the streets across Egypt in recent days to defend or criticize Morsy’s government.

It also raised questions about what will happen to Morsy and his supporters, who insist he remains the country’s legitimate leader; whether violence blamed for the deaths Wednesday of at least 32 people will spread; whether democracy has a chance in Egypt.

But the Tamarod movement that had sought Morsy’s ouster was moving on. It said in a tweet that it had nominated Mohamed ElBaradei, an opposition leader, to become prime minister.

ElBaradei told CNN on Thursday that Morsy’s ouster was not a coup but was instead a “correction of the uprising of 2011.”

Another opposition figure, Egyptian Conference Party leader Amre Moussa, took a similar semantic stance. “This is not a coup; this is a revolution,” the former presidential candidate told CNN’s Jim Clancy.

Asked whether the Brotherhood arrests were necessary, he said they would be temporary. “There are certain security measures that should not stay but for the first couple of days, three, four days — the new regime wants to ensure that discipline will take place.”

Democratic processes had been “absent” under Morsy, said the former Arab League secretary-general, who lost last year in his bid for the presidency.

Asked whether he would run again, he said, “I have declared several times before that I do not intend to run for president next time. This is my determination as I am talking to you.”

The conflicting views, the threat of more violence, possible divisions among the anti-Morsy coalition and Egypt’s economic woes represent major obstacles to a smooth transition, said Hani Sabra, director of the Middle Eastern arm of the Eurasia Group, a U.S.-based political risk research and consulting firm. “I don’t think that the military’s so-called road map is actually going to move smoothly. I think there are a lot of challenges it faces.”

The huge crowds that had celebrated Morsy’s ouster Wednesday night with horns, cheering, fireworks had thinned hours later. On Thursday, the atmosphere in Cairo’s Tahrir Square was calm and celebratory. Crowds cheered as military helicopters flew overhead. Women pushed baby strollers, children had their faces painted, music played and people danced.

Swearing in

Morsy, a Western-educated Islamist elected a year ago, “did not achieve the goals of the people” and failed to meet the generals’ demands that he share power with his opposition, Egypt’s top military officer, Gen. Abdel-Fatah El-Sisi, said Wednesday in a televised speech to the nation.

Adly Mansour, head of the country’s Supreme Constitutional Court, was sworn in Thursday as interim president in Cairo.

At the ceremony, Mansour said the Egyptian people had given him the authority “to amend and correct” the revolution that toppled Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

Following a decree last month by Morsy, Mansour had become head of the court just two days earlier.

Until new elections, to be held at an unspecified date, Mansour will have the power to issue constitutional declarations, El-Sisi said.

The Egyptian military has dominated the country for six decades and took direct power for a year and a half after Mubarak’s ouster.

Morsy’s approval ratings plummeted after his election in June 2012 as his government failed to keep order or revive Egypt’s economy.

Celebrations in Cairo after Morsi ousted

Morsy’s opponents accused him of authoritarianism and forcing through a conservative agenda, and on Monday the military gave him 48 hours to order reforms.

As the deadline neared Wednesday, he offered to form an interim coalition government to oversee parliamentary elections and revise the constitution, which was enacted in January. But those actions failed to satisfy the generals.

Conflicting responses

The army’s move against Morsy and the Muslim Brotherhood, the long-repressed political movement that propelled him to office, provoked wildly conflicting reactions.

In Tahrir Square, the epicenter of two Egyptian upheavals, a vast gathering of Morsy’s opponents erupted in jubilation and fireworks at El-Sisi’s announcement Wednesday night.

“The crowd walked up to the barricades and started banging on them using rocks, sticks and even bare hands,” said Sultan Zaki Al-Saud in a CNN iReport. “It sounded like thunder as the hollow barricades rang with every blow.”

During his time in office, Morsy had squared off against Egypt’s judiciary, the media, the police and even artists.

Egyptians are frustrated with rampant crime and a struggling economy. Unemployment remains high, food prices are rising and there are frequently electricity cuts and long fuel lines.

‘The world is looking’

Morsy had remained defiant.

“The world is looking at us today,” he said Wednesday in a taped statement delivered to the Arabic satellite network Al Jazeera. “We by ourselves can bypass the obstacles. We, the sons of Egypt, the sons of this country — this is the will of the people and cannot be canceled.”

Shortly after Morsy’s statement aired, Al Jazeera reported its Cairo studios had been raided during a live broadcast and 28 staff members arrested. Most were later released, it said.

On Thursday, Al Jazeera’s acting chief, Mostefa Souag, demanded the immediate release of the Egyptian channel’s managing director, Ayman Gaballah, and Al Jazeera Arabic broadcast engineer Ahmad Hasan.

“A return to Mubarak-era practices of mass arrests and politically motivated imprisonment of Muslim Brotherhood leaders will have the worst possible effect on Egypt’s political future,” said Human Rights Watch, the U.S.-based advocacy group.

Concerns of a backlash

Some observers warned of an extremist backlash.

“The major lesson that Islamists in the Middle East are likely to learn from this episode is that they will not be allowed to exercise power, no matter how many compromises they make in both the domestic and foreign policy arenas,” said Mohammed Ayoob, Michigan State University professor emeritus of international relations.

“This is likely to push a substantial portion of mainstream Islamists into the arms of the extremists who reject democracy and ideological compromise,” Ayoob wrote in a CNN.com opinion piece.

President Barack Obama said the United States was “deeply concerned” by Morsy’s removal and the suspension of the constitution.

He called upon the military to hand over power to “a democratically elected civilian government” but did not say it needed to be Morsy’s.

At least three high-level conversations took place between U.S. military officials and their Egyptian counterparts in the past week, Pentagon officials said Thursday.

The president’s national security team that has been in touch with Egyptian officials and regional allies urged a “quick and responsible” return to a democratically elected government, the White House said Thursday.

The situation has created an uncomfortable policy scenario for the United States, which champions democratic principles.

Washington has supplied Egypt’s military with tens of billions of dollars in support and equipment for more than 30 years. Under U.S. law, that support could be cut off after a coup.

Obama said he had ordered “the relevant departments and agencies” to study how the change in power would affect U.S. aid.

The German government was more blunt in its assessment.

“This is a heavy setback for democracy in Egypt,” German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said. “It is very urgent for Egypt to return to constitutional order as soon as possible.”

–CNN’s Ben Wedeman reported from Cairo; Tom Watkins and Chelsea J. Carter wrote from Atlanta. CNN’s Jethro Mullen, Reza Sayah, Becky Anderson, Mohammed Tawfeeq, Ivan Watson, Jill Dougherty, Dan Lothian, Amir Ahmed, Ali Younes, Schams Elwazer, Elise Labott, Ian Lee, Housam Ahmed and Salma Abdelaziz contributed to this report.

Cairo, Egypt (CNN) – A day after deposing the nation’s first democratically elected president, Egypt’s security forces on Thursday moved to arrest leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood that had supported his rule and to silence their communications outlets.

Muslim Brotherhood spokesman Gehad El-Haddad told CNN the ousted president, Mohamed Morsy, was under house arrest at the presidential Republican Guard headquarters in Cairo; the military has not commented on Morsy’s whereabouts.

Morsy has refused an offer by the armed forces to leave Egypt for Qatar, Turkey or Yemen, the state-run newspaper Al-Ahram reported Thursday. The report said that he wouldn’t step down voluntarily and that his speech Wednesday — before his ouster — represented a “flagrant challenge to its authority” and a “declaration of confrontation with it.”

Celebrations in Cairo after Morsi oustedA spokesman for Morsy’s Freedom and Justice Party said that what started as a military coup was “turning into something much more.”

In an interview in Cairo, El-Haddad cited the arrests as “very, very questionable attempts by the military to dismantle the Brotherhood.”

He added, “This is a military coup that’s establishing an oppressive new regime under the whitewashed face of the old regime.”

The military should not take political sides, he said, adding that he had had no direct communications with Morsy. “But there are sympathizers inside the military who are giving us pieces of information, primarily to other Muslim Brotherhood leaders, that have relayed it to me.”

The former chairman of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mahdi Aakef, and his bodyguards were arrested Thursday in Cairo with four weapons in their possession, according to the state-run Middle East News Agency, which cited security sources.

And Muslim Brotherhood supreme leader Mohamed Badei and the former supreme leader Mohamed Mahdi Akef have been arrested, Egyptian state broadcaster Nile TV said Thursday.

Arrest warrants have been issued for Badei’s deputy, Khairat el-Shater, and other Brotherhead leaders on charges of inciting the killing of peaceful protesters in front of Brotherhood headquarters in Cairo’s Moqattam neighborhood.

Police are seeking another 300 members of the Muslim Brotherhood, Al-Ahram newspaper reported.

For more on this CNN story, click here.

CAIRO — Egypt swore in an interim leader Thursday after amilitary coup toppled the country’s first freely elected president, raising fresh uncertainty over the formation of a coalition government to ease deep political divisions and prevent economic collapse.

Judge Adly Mahmoud Mansour, head of the Supreme Constitutional Court, took the oath of the presidency in a court chamber along the Nile. He replaced Mohamed Morsi, the nation’s first Islamist president, who was forced from office after refusing a military order to compromise with the opposition to end months of unrest.

The inauguration of a new leader was the latest political maneuver in a tumultuous 24 hours that were also marked by clashes between pro- and anti-Morsi supporters that left 10 dead across the country and the arrest of two prominent members of the deposed president’s Muslim Brotherhood party.

Celebrations in Cairo after Morsi oustedAfter his swearing in, Mansour said the youth-inspired protests that began Sunday and ended with Morsi’s overthrow “corrected the path of the glorious revolution that took place on Jan 25, 2011.”

He added the Egyptian people “are the source of all powers” and that the greatest thing that happened on June 30 is that it united the people without discrimination or differentiation.”

Little is known about Mansour, 67, an administrator and judge who is expected to be a transitional figure in the country’s tortuous path toward democracy that began with the 2011 uprising that overthrew longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak. Mansour, sworn in in the same chamber where Morsi was inaugurated last year, heads the court that often battled the Brotherhood’s attempts to increase its hold on the government.

Morsi was reportedly under house arrest. But he and the Brotherhood remained defiant, insisting they were Egypt’s legitimate authority. The coup “drives Egypt backward,” Morsi said on his Facebook page.

For more on this LA Times story, click here.

By Ingy Hassieb

Los Angeles Times

CAIRO — Opponents of Egypt’s ousted president, Mohamed Morsi, celebrated into the night Wednesday after the military removed him from office, filling the streets in parts of the capital and in other cities and towns.

Celebrations in Cairo after Morsi oustedRevelers danced and cheered in Cairo’s Tahrir Square and outside the presidential palace, waiving flags and flashing green-colored lasers. Fireworks lighted up the sky.

“We want a better future, a better economy,” said Riham Adel, a 28-year-old secretary who joined the throngs in Tahrir Square, epicenter of the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime strongman Hosni Mubarak. “We don’t want to be so divided and polarized, and this is what the Muslim Brotherhood and Morsi did to us.”

[In Washington, the United States sharply raised the threat level in its travel advisory to Egypt on Wednesday, warning citizens to defer visits and advising American residents there to leave.]

[President Obama, in a statement issued Wednesday night after Morsi’s ouster, called "on the Egyptian military to move quickly and responsibly to return full authority back to a democratically elected civilian government.”]

But while some in Cairo celebrated the overthrow of what they regarded as an authoritarian leader with a heavily Islamist agenda, the removal of Egypt’s first freely elected president incited fury among Morsi’s supporters. They too were in the streets Wednesday, but appeared less defiant than in previous days.

Crowds gathered outside Cairo University and Rabaa al Adawiya mosque in the city’s Nasr City district and waited tensely for the televised announcement, in which the military said it was suspending the Islamist-backed constitution and would install a coalition government ahead of fresh elections.

Many were unwilling to talk to reporters as they worried about whether the armed forces would attack them.

“If they bomb us, we will not let Morsi down,” his supporters chanted outside the mosque. “If they shoot at us with bullets, we will not abandon our cause.”

But few seemed inclined to pick a fight with the military.

“The army is an ally of the nation. It protects everyone, regardless of their political stance,” said one demonstrator, Mahmoud Yassin. “There will be no clashes between us and the army, no matter what…. If the army steps in, we will stay and continue our peaceful demonstration in support of Morsi’s legitimacy.”

A tweet from Morsi’s presidential office quoted him as saying that the measures announced by the armed forces amounted to a “full coup categorically rejected by all the free men of our nation.”

But the office followed up with an appeal “to everyone to adhere to peacefulness and avoid shedding blood of fellow countrymen.”

 Cairo (CNN) — Egypt’s military deposed the country’s first democratically elected president Wednesday night after he failed to meet demands to share power with opponents who thronged the streets of Cairo, state-run media reported.

Troops moved into key positions around the capital and surrounded a demonstration by Morsy’s supporters in a Cairo suburb as a 48-hour ultimatum from the generals expired. Citing an unnamed presidential source, the state-run newspaper Al-Ahram reported that “the General Command of the Armed Forces told President Morsy around 7 p.m. (1 p.m. ET) that he is no longer a president for the republic.”

The state-run Middle East News Agency reported Wednesday night that leaders of the country’s Muslim and Christian communities would join military leaders and opposition figures to lay out an agreement “to exit the current political crisis.”

The report came shortly after a deadline issued by the generals to Egypt’s first democratically elected leader expired. At the final hour, Morsy offered to form an interim coalition government “that would manage the upcoming parliamentary electoral process, and the formation of an independent committee for constitutional amendments to submit to the upcoming parliament,” Morsy said in a posting on his Facebook page.

egypt riots

Photo courtesy of glogster.com

He noted that hundreds of thousands of supporters and protesters had packed plazas around the country, and he urged that his countrymen be allowed to express their opinions through the ballot box.

“One of the mistakes I cannot accept — as the president of all Egyptians — is to side with one party over another, or to present the scene from one side only. To be fair, we need to listen to the voice of people in all squares,” the statement read.

But as night fell Wednesday, Egyptian troops were taking control of key points around the capital and surrounded a pro-Morsy demonstration at a Cairo mosque. Gehad El-Haddad, a spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood, reported via Twitter that tanks were on the streets.

Morsy was said to be working from a complex belonging to the country’s Republican Guard, across the street from the presidential palace, according to Egyptian state media. Reuters reported that troops were setting up barricades around that facility.

In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the U.S. government — Egypt’s leading ally — could not confirm reports of a coup. Psaki said the United States is not taking sides and urged all parties to come to a peaceful resolution to the “tense and fast-moving” situation.

For the complete CNN story, go here.

CAIRO (CNN) — Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi on Wednesday offers to form an interim coalition government even as one of his aides and a Muslim Brotherhood spokesman said it appeared a military coup was under way.

“The presidency’s vision includes the formation of a coalition government that would manage the upcoming parliamentary electoral process, and the formation of an independent committee for constitutional amendments to submit to the upcoming parliament,” he said in a posting on his Facebook page.

“The presidency blames for the most part a number of political parties that boycotted all calls for dialogue.”

It added, “To protect the blood of Egyptians, the presidency calls on all political and national forces to prioritize national interest above all other interests.”

Morsi noted that hundreds of thousands of supporters and protesters had packed plazas around the country.

egypt riots

Photo courtesy of glogster.com

“One of the mistakes I cannot accept — as the president of all Egyptians — is to side with one party over another, or to present the scene from one side only. To be fair, we need to listen to the voice of people in all squares.”

He urged that his countrymen be allowed to express their opinions through the ballot box.

The posting came as the nation’s first democratically elected president and his supporters were facing off against demonstrators who had packed public spaces around the country to demonstrate their opposition to his government.

Whether his statement would suffice to stave off military intervention was not immediately clear.

For the complete CNN story, go here.

CAIRO — The clock is ticking toward the showdown Wednesday that will determine whether the army will seize control of Egypt and end the embattled one-year rule of President Mohamed Morsi, the nation’s first Islamist leader.

The army has given Morsi until 5 p.m. Cairo time (8 a.m. PST) to either form a coalition government to quell months of unrest or face the prospect of a coup. Morsi has rebuffed the ultimatum, saying he will defend the constitution with his life.

egypt1“We sacrifice for our country, and I am the first to sacrifice. If the cost of legitimacy is my life, I will pay it gladly,” hei told the nation early Wednesday.

The generals have been just as defiant. Helicopters buzzed over Cairo, and the military command was reportedly in an emergency meeting Wednesday. The army’s Facebook page carried an ominous post titled: “The Final Hours”:

“The general commander of the armed forces has mentioned that it is more honorable for us to die than for the Egyptian people to be intimidated or threatened … and we swear to god that we will sacrifice for Egypt and its people with our blood against any terrorist, fundamentalist, or ignorant [person].”

Fear, excitement and apprehension have gripped the nation, which two years ago overthrew Hosni Mubarak only to face economic turmoil, political divisions and deadly protests that have marred the path toward democracy. Pro- and anti-Morsi supporters clashed through Tuesday night, including fighting at Cairo University, where 16 people were killed and more than 200 injured.

The military is exasperated at Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood party, but the president said he has the legitimacy of being Egypt’s first freely elected leader. Millions of anti-government demonstrators have demanded that Morsi step aside and call early elections.

Such a scenario would be a major defeat for the Brotherhood, a once-outlawed organization that has waited more than 80 years to impose its brand of political Islam on the country. But the forces of the secular state, founded after a 1952 military coup against British rule, are suspicious of Morsi’s intentions and the Brotherhood’s exclusion of other political voices.

The military, though, faces steep risks with a coup. It has said it will tear up the new Islamist-backed constitution and form a transitional coalition government made up of civilians. The army unsuccessfully ruled the country from 2011 until Morsi took office, and if it appears to remain it power too long, it will likely face a new backlash.

From the LA Times

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