The U.S. government condemned fresh violence in Egypt and criticized the detention of key Muslim Brotherhood figures even as opponents of Mohamed Morsi say his advocates are both instigating violence and inflating casualty claims.
The National Salvation Front, which was Morsi’s main opposition, said the Brotherhood “has gathered its supporters in Rabaa Al-Adawiya [sit-in in Cairo's Nasr City] for a month now and claims that confronting the armed forces and the police, attacking private and governmental institutions, and endangering the lives of the Egyptian citizens is jihad for God, and they will receive martyrdom if they [die] in these attacks,” according to Al-Ahram.
The coalition also said the Muslim Brotherhood’s strategy is to “increase the conflicts, and cause more innocent Egyptian casualties” with an “inciting hostility approach” to exaggerate the numbers of deaths and injuries during the clashes. This has been backed up for many days by leading Egyptian tweeters who have pointed out that the facts on the ground are not as the Muslim Brotherhood was claiming through its social networking operation.
“Based on reports of the committee, all those responsible must be held accountable, including the minister of interior, if it is proven that the security forces were involved in excessive use of force against protesters,” the NSF statement said, concluding that the “leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood were not content that millions of Egyptians [on Friday] took to the streets nationwide to confirm their adherence to the roadmap, announced on 3 July,” and thus the Muslim Brotherhood will try to “exploit the current strife to fuel more conflict and refuse national reconciliation.”
Egypt’s health ministry said 80 were killed in clashes and 722 injured. The Muslim Brotherhood’s official website said at least 200 people were killed and about 5,000 were wounded.
The Muslim Brotherhood, for instance, claimed that pro-Morsi demonstrators near Rabaa Al-Adawiya Mosque in east Cairo were targeted by gunfire from military helicopters and said police on the ground were using live rounds and “intentionally targeting heads and chests.” According to Al-Ahram, Interior ministry spokesman Hani Abdel-Latif said that pro-Morsi protesters had started to block traffic on a bridge, then “clashed with residents of the nearby [working class] Mansheyet Nasr district using live fire and birdshot, and this killed 21 people. The police moved to stop the clashes between the two groups and opened the road again,” but used only tear gas.
The Obama administration, which has infuriated the Egyptian people who rose up against Morsi en masse by refusing to take sides, criticized the Egyptian authorities as needing to recognize their “moral and legal obligation to respect the right of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression.”
Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement late Saturday that he’d spoken with Interim Vice President Mohamed ElBaradei, Interim Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy, and European Union High Representative Catherine Ashton about “the bloodshed and violence in Cairo and Alexandria over the past 24 hours that has claimed the lives of scores of Egyptian demonstrators and injured more than 1,000 people.”
“Violence not only further sets back the process of reconciliation and democratization in Egypt, but it will negatively impact regional stability,” he said. “At this critical juncture, it is essential that the security forces and the interim government respect the right of peaceful protest, including the ongoing sit-in demonstrations.”
Kerry said the U.S. calls for “an independent and impartial inquiry into the events of the last day, and calls on all of Egypt’s leaders across the political spectrum to act immediately to help their country take a step back from the brink.”
Then he stressed what the administration has been hinting in every statement on the Egyptian revolution: that the Muslim Brotherhood should be part of the post-Morsi political scene.
“An inclusive political process is needed that achieves as soon as possible a freely and fairly elected government committed to pluralism and tolerance. The Egyptians who poured into Tahrir Square in 2011 and 2013 themselves called for this outcome for their country’s future and for their aspirations,” Kerry said. “A meaningful political dialogue, for which interim government officials have themselves called, requires participants who represent all the political parts of Egyptian society. To enable such a dialogue, the United States reiterates our call for an end to politicized detentions and the release of political leaders consistent with the law.”