The political crisis in Egypt deepened on Monday when the Muslim Brotherhood called for an uprising against those who want to “steal the revolution” after at least 51 people were killed and 435 injured at a Cairo rally in support of the nation’s ousted president, Mohamed Morsi.
Adli Mansour, the interim president, ordered the creation of a judicial committee to investigate the violence while an administration spokesman, told Reuters the violence “will not stop steps to form a government or a road map”.
The interim administration earlier expressed “deep regret” for the victims, saying in a statement that the incident was caused by an attempt to storm a Republican Guard barracks. It urged protesters not to approach military facilities or other “vital installations”.
The Freedom and Justice party, the Brotherhood’s political wing, said on its Facebook page that Egyptians should “rise up against those who want to steal their revolution with tanks and armoured vehicles, even over the dead bodies of the people”.
Monday’s clashes immediately sparked fresh uncertainty over the make-up of any new government when the hardline Islamist Nour party – which backed the ousting of Mr Morsi – pulled out of negotiation as a response to what a spokesman called “the massacre of the Republican Guard”.
Civil War Brewing?
The Guardian reports Muslim Brotherhood decries killing of Morsi supporters in Cairo 'massacre'
The army said an "armed terrorist group" attempted to break into the Republican Guard headquarters and attacked security forces. One officer died and 40 soldiers were injured, seven of whom were in a critical condition, according to al-Ahram, Egypt's leading pro-government newspaper. The army said it had arrested at least 200 people who had large quantities of firearms, ammunition and Molotov cocktails.
The conservative Salafi al-Nour party withdrew from talks about a transitional government after the latest violence. "We wanted to avoid bloodshed, but now blood has been spilled. So now we want to announce that we will end all negotiations with the new authorities," it said.
Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, a moderate Islamist who left the Brotherhood last year, called on Mansour to step down and told al-Jazeera that the incident was "a horrible crime against humanity and all Egyptians".
The Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice party (FJP) said it was calling "on the great Egyptian people to rise up against those who want to steal their revolution with tanks and armoured vehicles, even over the dead bodies of the people". But a spokesman clarified later that the appeal was for a "peaceful uprising".
Hamdeen Sabahi, a former presidential candidate and leftist opposition leader, said: "It is very bad news. Very painful. The troops have the duty to guard this building and deal with any attackers. But the result puts us in a bad situation." The only beneficiaries were the Muslim Brotherhood and others who sought to polarise the situation and drive Egypt into civil war, he said.
Let's hope that cooler head prevail, but the radical Muslim Brotherhood may not give up so easily having been forced out of power by the military.
Mike "Mish" Shedlock