Egypt’s forces move against Muslim Brotherhood; attacks against police reported

Updated 10:24 PM EDT, Thu July 4, 2013

Story highlights

NEW: Egyptian police, army attacked in the Sinai Peninsula, agencies report

At least two killed and 100 injured in clashes, state media reports

Morsy under investigation for allegedly inciting violence and killings, state media says

Morsy said to be detained at Ministry of Defense

Are you in Egypt? Send us your experiences, but please stay safe.

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 the Muslim Brotherhood and others called for Morsy supporters to take to the streets Friday across Egypt to protest the military’s actions, while Egypt’s armed forces announced it would guarantee the rights of people to protest as long it did not result in violence or destruction of property.

Even so, the military 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 that 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.”

Though El-Haddad has had no direct communications with Morsy, sympathizers within the military were giving information to the Brotherhood, he said.

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

Also arrested was the Muslim Brotherhood’s current leader Mohamed Badei, Egyptian state broadcaster Nile TV reported 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

The Egyptian military also called Thursday for calm and unity, saying Egyptian values “do not allow for gloating or revenge between different groups” or for the destruction of private and public property, according to a statement posted on the Facebook page of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces.

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

More than 100 people were wounded and at least two people, believed to be children, were killed in clashes across the country on Thursday, according to state media.

Violence was reported at a pro-Morsy rally Thursday in the northern city of Zagazig, Nile TV reported, citing security officials.

An Egyptian soldier was killed and two were wounded when rockets were fired at a police station in Rafah, on the border between Egypt and Gaza, news agencies, including Reuters and AFP, reported early Friday.

Rocket-propelled grenades were also fired at army checkpoints near the El Arish International Airport in the Sinai, near the border with Gaza, the agencies reported.

It was not immediately known if the attacks were connected to the overthrow of Morsy.

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.

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.