Egypt debates fate of Muslim Brotherhood
19 August, 2013
CAIRO: Egypt's army-backed rulers met on Sunday to discuss their bloody confrontation with deposed President Mohamed Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood amid contrasting proposals for compromise and a fight to the death.
In a speech to military and police officers, army chief Abdel Fattah el-Sisi promised to crack down on anyone using violence, but also struck an apparently inclusive note, telling Morsi's supporters, "There is room for everyone in Egypt," according to the army's Facebook page.
The Brotherhood, under huge pressure since police stormed its protest camps in Cairo and killed hundreds of its supporters, said it was planning more marches to demand the reinstatement of Morsi, ousted by the army on July 3.
Egypt, the most populous Arab nation, is grappling with the worst bout of internal bloodshed in its modern history, just 30 months after President Hosni Mubarak's overthrow was hailed as heralding democratic change across a region ruled by autocrats. Around 800 people have died, including about 79 police, in a crackdown that has earned the military rulers condemnation from major aid donor the United States and the European Union, but support from wealthy Arab allies led by Saudi Arabia, which fear the spread of Brotherhood ideology to the Gulf monarchies.
Before the cabinet met, the liberal deputy prime minister, Ziad Bahaa el-Din, had floated a conciliatory proposal, seen by Reuters, advocating an end to a state of emergency declared last week, political participation for all parties and guarantees of human rights, including the right to free assembly. But his initiative seemed at odds with the position of Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi. Blaming a defiant Brotherhood for the bloodshed, he proposed dissolving the group in a move that would force it underground and could usher in mass arrests of its members countrywide. The government said it was studying the possibility.
"There will be no reconciliation with those whose hands have been stained with blood and who turned weapons against the state and its institutions," Beblawi told reporters.
A middle-ranking security officer, who asked not to be named, said there would be no let-up in the anti-Brotherhood struggle, regardless of any political proposals or international criticism.