CAIRO – Amid escalating violence and bloodshed, Egypt's army chief called Wednesday, July 24, for mass rallies to back a crackdown on "terrorism and violence", the comments slammed by Muslim Brotherhood as a "threat" to their peaceful rallies.
"Your threats will not prevent the millions to constantly protest against the coup,” Senior Muslim Brotherhood leader Essam El-Erian wrote on his Facebook page on Wednesday.
“And as a leader to a coup that caused the killing of women and children and those who were praying in the mosques, you need to remember that our people had their say against the coup and they are standing with the constitutional legitimacy and democracy," he added.
El-Erian comments followed calls by al-Sisi, who deposed Morsi on July 3 and replaced his government with an interim administration, for mass rallies on Friday.
He said the protests were urged to give him a mandate to confront violence following the overthrow of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi.
"I request that all Egyptians next Friday ... go down (into the street) to give me a mandate and an order to confront possible violence and terrorism," he told a military graduation ceremony in remarks broadcast live by state media.
His speech prompted concerns that the military may be seeking popular legitimacy for a violent crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood.
It also added to fears that it is Sisi, rather than the civilian government he installed following Morsi's overthrow, who has the greatest influence on post-Morsi Egypt.
Egypt has been thrown into turmoil after Morsi, Egypt's first democratically elected president, was toppled by the powerful military on Wednesday after massive protests against his regime.
The army also suspended the constitution and instated the head of the Supreme Constitutional Court as interim president.
The Muslim Brotherhood, from which Morsi hails, has vowed peaceful protests until the Islamist president is reinstated.
A Western diplomat in Cairo, who declined to be named, said Sisi's appeal represented a 'risky gambit' for the Arab world's biggest nation.
"We have seen an increase in violence when the two sides come together," he told Reuters.
Yasser El-Shimy, an Egypt expert at the International Crisis Group, said escalating tensions risked the chances of establishing political stability in the future.
"Both the authorities and the Muslim Brotherhood should recognize the urgency of negotiating a compromise out of this ever-escalating impasse," he El-Shimy.
El-Sisi calls followed violence escalation after the death of 13 pro-Morsi supporters since Monday.
The incident follows claims by the Muslim Brotherhood that four female Morsi supporters were shot dead during recent clashes in Mansoura.
Morsi's supporters also said that their night-time marches in Cairo have been attacked on two successive nights by security forces or their proxies, killing at least nine people.
On 8 July, security forces killed 51 Islamists outside a military compound.
On the other hand, official reports said that the deaths resulted from clashes between Morsi supporters and opponents.
The latest deaths take the death toll to more than 200.
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