Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Egypt Takes Another Step in Warning Protesters

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Egypt Takes Another Step in Warning Protesters

Article excerpt

A warning to tens of thousands of supporters of former President Mohamed Morsi was seen as moving toward the use of force.

The Egyptian authorities on Thursday warned tens of thousands of supporters of former President Mohamed Morsi to abandon their sit- ins in what was seen as the first step toward the use of force one day after the military-backed government ordered that the protests must end.

Speaking on state television, an Interior Ministry spokesman appealed to the protesters to "give priority to the interest of the homeland, to comply with the public interest and to quickly leave and evacuate." The ministry promised "safe exit and complete protection" to all who complied, said the spokesman, Hany Abdul- Laatef.

Responding to the Interior Ministry warning, an alliance of Mr. Morsi's supporters said that the sit-ins were peaceful and would continue and that the alliance "places full responsibility on the coup leaders for any acts of violence or killings."

For weeks, Mr. Morsi's supporters have been occupying two squares in Cairo -- Rabaa al-Adaweya in Nasr City and Nahdet Misr near Cairo University -- to protest his ouster on July 3.

The sit-ins have become flash points for the bloodiest confrontations since Mr. Morsi's ouster, including the killings of more than 140 of his Islamist supporters by Egyptian security services. As they have become better instituted, with stores and barbers and even their own television station, the encampments have become potent symbols of Egypt's impasse.

On Wednesday, Egypt's interim cabinet said the sit-ins were disruptive and represented "a threat to the Egyptian national security and an unacceptable terrorizing of citizens" and ordered the security forces to end them. The decree came after the interim prime minister met with Egypt's military commander, Gen. Abdul- Fattah el-Sisi. …

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