Egypt’s military-backed government on Wednesday or-dered the police to clear two Cairo protest camps packed with sup-porters of ousted President Mo-hammed Mursi, saying they posed a threat to national security and were ‘terrorising’ citizens.
The move signalled an imminent crackdown against the heavily bar-ricaded sit-ins — one outside a mosque in eastern Cairo and an-other on the other side of the city near the main Cairo University campus — and raised the prospect of more violence after clashes broke out during previous action against the mainly Islamist protesters.
More than 260 people have been killed since Mursi was ousted by the military on July 3, leaving the country between those calling for his reinstatement and millions who marched against him and his Mus-lim Brotherhood in a show of sup-port for the new political order.
Police have been instructed to end the protests “within the law and the constitution”, Information Minister Dorreya Sharaf El Din said in a televised statement, although she did not specify a timeframe.
Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim, who is in charge of the police, said the disbanding of the sit-ins will be carried out in gradu-al steps according to orders from prosecutors. “I hope they (Mursi supporters) resort to reason” and leave without authorities having to move in, he told the Associated Press in a telephone interview.
In a parallel move, prosecutors also referred three top Brother-hood leaders, including its fugi-tive spiritual leader Mohammed Badie, to trial for allegedly incit-ing the killing of anti-Mursi pro-testers last month.
The other two, who already are in detention, are Badie’s powerful deputy Khairat El Shater and se-nior Brotherhood leader Rashad Bayoumi. They are accused of in-citing the killing of at least eight protesters outside the Cairo head-quarters of the Brotherhood on the night of June 30 and early the next day. No date has been set for the trial, which will be held before a criminal court.