Egypt defends use of force against 'terrorists'

19 August 2013

EU to review relations with Egypt over force used to ‘restore law and order’

Egypt’s interim government has defended its right to use force to restore security to the country and accuses the Muslim Brotherhood of carrying out acts of terrorism. The Muslim Brotherhood and its leader President Mohamed Mursi were removed from power in a military coup on 3 July.

In a press conference, Mostafa Hegazy, a spokesman for Egypt’s Interim President Adly Mansour, told Egyptian and foreign journalists that “All sovereign states have the right to use force to restore law and order”.

The statements follow days of clashes between government security forces and members of the Muslim Brotherhood.

On Wednesday 14 August, the government decided to clear by force camps formed at two of Egypt’s squares. The Muslim Brotherhood-organised sit-ins, to protest against the ousting of Mursi, had been in place for weeks.

The Egyptian government stated the pro-Mursi sit-ins reflected the protesters’ “determination to set society ablaze”.

“Egypt has no other choice but to fight terrorism,” it has said.

More than 800 people have been killed since the 14 August crackdown. Following the deaths of hundreds of protesters at Rabaa Al-Adawiya and Nahda squares, the Brotherhood held a “day of anger” protest in Rameses Square on 16 August leading to further deaths.

On 17 August, hundreds of pro-Mursi supporters barricaded themselves inside the Al-Fath mosque in Cairo before the building was cleared by security forces.  

The government has also attacked the media for being biased towards the Muslim Brotherhood. Mansour has now put forward a proposal that the brotherhood should be banned.

The Brotherhood has called the actions of the Egyptian armed forces a “crime against humanity that will not go unpunished by the law”.

Western powers have spoken out against the interim government’s tactics, with UK Foreign Minister William Hague criticising the “disproportionate use of force”, and called for both sides to bring the violence to an end.

The EU, which had played a role trying to broker some form of peace between the two opposing groups before last week’s violence, has said it will review its relations with Egypt.

“The violence and the killings of these last days cannot be justified nor condoned. Human rights must be respected and upheld. Political prisoners should be released,” the statement read. “The EU will urgently review in the coming days its relations with Egypt and adopt measures aimed at pursuing these goals.”

However, other regional powers, such as Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah, have spoken out in support of the interim government.

“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, its people and government, stood and stands today with its brothers in Egypt against terrorism,” the king said.

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