CAIRO – The Egyptian government’s decision to mandate security forces to end all sit-ins for supporters of deposed President Mohamed Morsi is causing growing anger from international human rights and Islamic groups, condemning the decision as a “recipe for disaster”.
“Given the Egyptian security forces' record of policing demonstrations with the routine use of excessive and unwarranted lethal force, this latest announcement gives a seal of approval to further abuse” Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International, said in a press release on Amnesty website.
“The authorities as well as the security forces should start with an approach that avoids the use of force and is based on ‘methods of persuasion, negotiation and mediation’, as recommended by international standards.”
In a televised statement on Wednesday, Egypt's interim government said two Cairo vigils by pro-Morsi supporters are now considered a "threat to national security".
It ordered the Interior Ministry to take steps to "address these dangers and put an end to them," but gave no time frame.
A move against peaceful protesters could bring a new round of bloodshed after security forces shot dead 80 Brotherhood followers at dawn on Saturday and plunged the Arab world's most populous nation deeper into turmoil.
The crackdown, coupled with criminal probes against Morsi and other Brotherhood leaders, has fuelled global concern that the military plans to crush the Islamist movement, which spent decades in the shadows before winning power in repeated elections after a 2011 uprising toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak.
"Security forces should not resort to the use of firearms unless there is an imminent threat of death or serious injury," said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui.
“The decision to disperse any assembly should only be taken as last resort.”
Heba Morayef, Egypt director for Human Rights Watch, said: "They've set something in motion."
Amid expectations of new violence, an umbrella Muslim group in North America has condemned repeated violence against peaceful protesters.
“The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) is deeply disturbed by the killing of protesters by security forces in Egypt,” ISNA said in a statement obtained by OnIslam.net.
“We stand against any violation of human rights of citizens exercising their civic right to protest, and peacefully express their dissent, on either side of the issue.
“We consider the killing of innocent people unacceptable.”
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has also issued a statement earlier this week condemning violence against supporters of Egypt’s deposed President Morsi.
The announcement of the Egyptian interim cabinet sets up a showdown with the Muslim Brotherhood, which refuses to leave the streets until Egypt's first freely elected president is reinstated.
Deposed by the army on July 3, Morsi remains in military detention at a secret location.
Wednesday's announcement appeared to undercut efforts by the European Union to negotiate a peaceful settlement.
The bloc's foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, spent two days in Cairo this week, becoming the first outsider to see Morsi when she was flown after dark by military helicopter to his secret place of confinement.
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