Egypt crisis shows no sign of relenting

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  By Angela Haggerty
 
The crisis in Egypt has deepened with dozens more dead as clashes continue between security forces and protestors loyal to ousted President Mohammed Morsi.
 
More than 600 people were killed on Wednesday when protesters’ camps at Cairo’s Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque and Nahda Square were cleared by security forces.  The protests, backed by the Muslim Brotherhood, have called for the reinstatement of Mr Morsi, who was forced out of office by the Egyptian armed forces at the beginning of July.

On Friday, 25 deaths were reported outside of Cairo as violence spread throughout the country.

Friday had been heralded as a “day of rage” by protestors and the Muslim Brotherhood said a week of daily rallies across Egypt would follow.

A state of emergency has been declared and the violence has drawn international condemnation.  French President Francois Hollande has joined German Chancellor Angela Merkel in calling for urgent European consultations, while Turkey described the situation as a “massacre”.

Tanks are policing the streets of Cairo under military curfew and the Egyptian Interior Ministry said no more protests would be tolerated.

President Obama called a halt to military exercises with Egypt in response to the violence on Thursday and said the US could take “further steps” if it did not stop, but did not give further details.  While the president condemned the Egyptian security forces, he added that Mr Morsi’s government was “not inclusive” and “did not respect the views of all Egyptians”.

“While we want to sustain our relationship with Egypt, our traditional cooperation cannot continue as usual when civilians are being killed in the streets and rights are being rolled back,” said President Obama.

“While Mohammed Morsi was elected president in a democratic election, his government was not inclusive and did not respect the views of all Egyptians.  We know that many Egyptians, millions of Egyptians, perhaps even a majority of Egyptians were calling for a change in course.”

On Thursday, the Egyptian ambassador to Britain was summoned by the Foreign Office to express “deep concern” over the violence and the UK government urged Egyptian authorities to act with “the greatest restraint”.

It’s estimated up to 40,000 UK nationals could be holidaying in the country and the Foreign Office is advising against travel to some areas.  On Thursday, Sky News cameraman Mick Deane was shot dead while covering the violence in Cairo.

The situation has rapidly deteriorated since removal of Mr Morsi from office last month.  While violence rages in the turbulent country, he is being kept under arrest at a secret location, accused of planning attacks on jails during the Egyptian revolution in 2011.

Mr Morsi was elected in the country’s first democratic elections after Hosni Mubarak was ousted in 2011 amid the Arab Spring uprisings.  However, during his first year in power, the split between his Islamist supporters and the government’s opponents widened and reached breaking point when the military forcibly removed him, leading to concerns over the validity of the democratic process.

Chief Justice Adly Mansour has been installed as head of an interim government by military leader Gen Abdul Fattah al-Sisi until new elections can take place.