Egypt’s government urged supporters of ousted President Mohamed Mursi to end weeks of sit-ins and promised safe passage to those who comply, hours after the cabinet authorized police to take action.
The appeal signaled a crackdown may be imminent against thousands of demonstrators, led by Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood backers, who have occupied two main Cairo squares demanding his reinstatement. The protests have often turned deadly, with dozens, most of them Mursi loyalists, killed in clashes with security forces in the past week.
The Interior Ministry that oversees the nation’s police called on demonstrators to “resort to reason, prioritize the interests of the homeland, heed public interest and swiftly leave for everyone’s safety,” according to a statement read on state television today. “This comes with a complete pledge of a safe exit and full protection to all those who respond to the call.”
A move to break up the protests may fan the violence that has spread since the military deposed the democratically elected Mursi on July 3. Dozens of his supporters were killed in clashes with security forces in Cairo last weekend, in what the Islamists say is a repeat of the heavy-handed tactics of ousted President Hosni Mubarak.
The Brotherhood criticized the cabinet’s move, and called for new rallies tomorrow to support the Islamist who was elected in June 2012.
“Our peacefulness is stronger than their bullets, and the coalition holds the coup and the putschists fully responsible for any act of violence or murder,” the group said in an e-mailed statement.