Cairo, Egypt – Islamist demonstrators were prepared for violent confrontation this month as police indicated they could act soon to besiege two protest camps as a first step to dispersing supporters of Mohammed Morsi, Egypt’s deposed president, after Eid Al Fitr had passed, as reported by The National.
The Muslim Brotherhood had been given an ultimatum by Egypt’s army, which states that the Muslim Brotherhood must participate in the political reconciliation or suffer the consequences for its direct defiance of the army’s orders. A military official said, "We will not initiate any move, but will definitely react harshly against any calls for violence or black terrorism from Brotherhood leaders or their supporters. We pledge to protect peaceful protesters regardless of their affiliation," as Al Ahram newspaper reported.
Despite this ultimatum, the Morsi supporters have shown no signs of backing down from their position. They want Mohamed Morsi reinstated as president and nothing less, calling on all supporters to continue mass marches across the country on Fridays. The army called for protests as well in hopes of obtaining approval to “confront violence and terrorism,” Ahram newspaper reported.
Ahmed Moslimany, the president's media advisor, invited all political parties to participate in national reconciliation meetings to resolve their differences and ensure that all Egyptians’ concerns are met. This would have been quite a feat; however, the Muslim Brotherhood repudiated any forms of dialogue with a government they do not recognize.
According to the Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram, the deputy head of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, Mohamed El-Beltagy said, “What [national] reconciliation are they speaking about? They are reconciling with the Mubarak regime symbols, not the Egyptian people. Morsi must be reinstated as president, the elected Shura council restored and the voted-for constitution unfrozen in order for us to be involved in any talks."
While the Muslim Brotherhood may be at the helm of the protests against the ouster of Morsi, the Morsi support base is comprised of many religious groups that have their own agendas, but do agree on one thing—Morsi’s expulsion from his legitimately obtained office was a military coup. They have managed to shut down key areas of Cairo with their marches and sit-ins. These areas are major thoroughfares for getting to and from other parts of the country, in addition to causing a great hardship on those just seeking to go about their daily lives.
There are Egyptians who think this defiance will lead to civil war. The Al-Wafd Party has stated, “The Muslim Brotherhood aims to drag the Egyptian people into a civil war and to create a state of chaos, so as to hijack the legitimacy of people, which dropped the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood on 30 June," the Egypt Independent newspaper reported.
The Salafist Nour Party—Egypt’s second largest religious group – has stated its grievances as well. It does not welcome, nor is it seeking assistance from foreign nations in resolving the current problems in Egypt. The Nour Party “refused talks with US Secretary of State Bill Burns,” according to Al Ahram. Additionally, it was reported that the Nour Party also stopped the appointment of the National Salvation Front’s Mohamed ElBaradei and the Egyptian Social Democratic Party's Ziad Bahaa Eddin as interim prime minister.
The National Salvation Front (NSF) is one of the major political parties comprised of liberals and leftists and is partly responsible for ousting Morsi; however, it wants assurances from the interim president. The NSF said, "The new government must include figures from the January 25 Revolution who are also known for their credible support of the revolution since it took place. A single party should not have veto power over decisions or appointments,” according to Al Ahram.
With violent clashes between Morsi supporters and the military in recent weeks, and death tolls rising across the country, tensions are high and some feel the threat of war is imminent if the Morsi supporters continue to protest. However, they are adamant that they will continue until their demands are met. Ahmed Aref, the Muslim Brotherhood spokesperson, told the Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper that, “We will continue our rallies in the squares to reject the coup, end this disaster, and restore legitimacy.” He added that the group would not engage in dialogue with the 'illegitimate' president. Aref also stated in the same report, “We ask that whoever opposes us not trivialize us as a weak enemy. We have accumulated much experience since our founding more than 80 years ago. We have been through hardship that others cannot even imagine. We have strong institutional work based on preaching and educational values, and thus we can be a bitter enemy.”