Morsi Aides Arrested in Widening Sweep

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CAIRO -- Egyptian prosecutors escalated what appeared to be a widespread roundup of top Muslim Brotherhood members on Thursday, acting hours after the military deposed Mohamed Morsi, the Islamist who became the country's first democratically elected president just a year ago.

The roundup, which placed some Brotherhood members in the same prison holding Hosni Mubarak, the autocratic leader toppled in the 2011 revolution, came as a senior jurist was sworn in as the acting head of state and an alliance of Islamists called on supporters to stage peaceful demonstrations nationwide on Friday to protest Mr. Morsi's ouster.

In a ceremony broadcast live on state television, the chief justice of the Supreme Constitutional Court, Adli Mansour, took the oath and praised the protesters whose mass demonstrations spurred the Egyptian military to depose Mr. Morsi on Wednesday, suspend the Constitution and install an interim government. Mr. Mansour said the actions in Egypt had "corrected the path of its glorious revolution."

Both Mr. Mansour and the National Salvation Front, an alliance of liberal and leftist parties that had pushed for Mr. Morsi's ouster, offered an olive branch to his Islamist supporters in the Muslim Brotherhood, saying that the group was part of the spectrum of Egyptian society and should participate in an inclusive political process.

But the Muslim Brotherhood, which had long been banned in Egypt until the 2011 Arab Spring revolution and quickly shot to power under Mr. Morsi, appeared to rule out any reconciliation, arguing that the military intervention was a coup that overthrew Egypt's legitimate leader.

"We reject participation in any work with the usurper authorities," Sheik Abdel Rahman al-Barr, an executive board member of the organization, said in a statement on the group's Web site, which also exhorted members to "show self-restraint and stay peaceful."

A group called the National Alliance to Support Legitimacy, a coalition of Islamist parties including the Muslim Brotherhood, issued a call for "peaceful protests on Friday in all of Egypt's provinces to denounce the military coup against legitimacy and in support of the legitimacy of President Morsi," according to Ahram Online, the English-language Web site of Al Ahram, Egypt's flagship newspaper.

Earlier on Thursday, Egypt's public prosecutor ordered the arrest of the supreme guide of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohamed Badie, and his influential deputy, Khairat el-Shater, on charges of incitement to kill demonstrators. Egyptian media said Mr. Badie was taken into custody.

The two Islamist leaders were suspected of playing a role in the deaths of eight protesters, six by gunshots, while a mob was attacking and burning the Muslim Brotherhood's headquarters in Cairo earlier this week, Egyptian media said.

The arrests appeared to be part of a broadening crackdown on Mr. Morsi and his political allies that included the arrests of dozens of Muslim Brotherhood members. Ahram Online said those taken into custody included Saad el-Katatni, leader of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, and Rashad Bayoumi, the deputy head of the Islamist movement.

Shortly before Mr. Mansour was sworn in, the skies over the capital, Cairo, filled with military jets in a series of flybys, news reports said. The state-run MENA news agency reported that the flights were meant to "celebrate the triumph of popular will."

Tahrir Square, where tens of thousands of opponents of the government had gathered each night since Sunday to demand Mr. Morsi's removal, erupted in fireworks and jubilation on Wednesday night at news of the ouster, but by Thursday the city was reported to be calm.

At a square near the presidential palace where Mr. Morsi's Islamist supporters had gathered, men broke into tears and vowed to stay until he was reinstated or they were forcibly removed. "The dogs have done it and made a coup against us," they chanted on Wednesday. "Dying for the sake of God is more sublime than anything," a speaker declared.

Military vehicles and soldiers in riot gear had surrounded the pro-Morsi rally in the hours before the takeover, and tensions escalated through the night. Within hours, at least seven people had died and more than 300 were injured in clashes in 17 provinces between Mr. Morsi's supporters and either civilian opponents or security forces.

Just before he was taken into custody, Mr. Morsi rejected the generals' actions as a "complete military coup." By the end of Wednesday night, Mr. Morsi, under house arrest, was blocked from all communications, one of his advisers said.

For Mr. Morsi, it was a bitter and ignominious end to a tumultuous year of bruising political battles that ultimately alienated millions of Egyptians. Having won a narrow victory, his critics say, he broke his promises of an inclusive government and repeatedly demonized his opposition as traitors. With the economy crumbling, and with shortages of electricity and fuel, anger at the government mounted.

The generals built their case for intervention in a carefully orchestrated series of maneuvers, calling their actions an effort at a "national reconciliation" and refusing to call their takeover a coup. At a televised news conference late on Wednesday night, Gen. Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi, head of the armed forces, said the military had no interest in politics and was ousting Mr. Morsi because he had failed to fulfill "the hope for a national consensus."

The general stood on a broad stage, flanked by Egypt's top Muslim and Christian clerics as well as a spectrum of political leaders including Mohamed ElBaradei, the Nobel Prize-winning diplomat and liberal icon, and Galal Morra, a prominent Islamist ultraconservative, or Salafi, all of whom endorsed the takeover.

Despite their protestations, the move plunged the generals back to the center of political power for the second time in less than three years, after their ouster of President Mubarak in 2011. Their return threatened to cast a long shadow over future efforts to fulfill that revolution's promise of a credible, civilian democracy. But General Sisi sought to present an image very different from the anonymous, numbered communiqués from the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces that were solemnly read over state television to announce Mr. Mubarak's exit, and the general emphasized that the military had no desire to rule.

"The armed forces was the one to first announce that it is out of politics," General Sisi said at the start. "It still is, and it will remain away from politics."

In Washington, President Obama met with his national security team to discuss the crisis while Secretary of State John Kerry and others called a variety of Egyptian officials urging them to restore democracy.

"Members of the president's national security team have been in touch with Egyptian officials and our regional partners to convey the importance of a quick and responsible return of full authority to a democratically elected civilian government as soon as possible," said Bernadette Meehan, a White House spokeswoman.

She said the administration wanted to see a "transparent political process that is inclusive of all parties and groups; avoiding any arbitrary arrests of President Morsi and his supporters; and the responsibility of all groups and parties to avoid violence."

The administration has notably not referred to the military intervention in Egypt as a coup -- a phrase that could have implications for the $1.3 billion a year in American military aid to Egypt. American law requires the United States to cut financial assistance to nations where democratic governments are overthrown by the military or where the armed forces otherwise violate human rights.

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, drew attention to that issue in an interview to be broadcast on CNN's "State of the Union" this Sunday.

"If this were to be seen as a coup, then it would limit our ability to have the kind of relationship we think we need with the Egyptian Armed Forces," General Dempsey said in the interview, recorded on Wednesday.

David D. Kirkpatrick reported from Cairo, Alan Cowell from London and Rick Gladstone from New York. Reporting was contributed by Kareem Fahim, Mayy El Sheikh and Ben Hubbard from Cairo; Mark Landler, Peter Baker and Thom Shanker from Washington; and Mona El-Naggar from New York.


This article originally appeared in The New York Times.


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