CAIRO (AP) — An Egyptian police official called Saturday on supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi to abandon their protest sit-ins, saying it would pave the way for his Muslim Brotherhood to return to a normal role in the country’s political process.
The nationally televised remarks by Interior Ministry spokesman Hany Abdel-Latif came as authorities announced plans to break up the two main Cairo sit-ins by erecting cordons to prevent people from entering them.
Morsi’s backers, including his Muslim Brotherhood group, have vowed to continue protesting until he’s reinstated. He was ousted in a military coup July 3 after several days of protests by millions who took to the street to demand his ouster.
Abdel-Latif promised the protesters they would be able to leave without being arrested if they had not committed any crimes. He offered protection and safe passage to those willing to leave the two main camps — a large one outside the Rabaah al-Adawiya Mosque in eastern Cairo and a smaller one near Cairo University’s main campus in Giza.
“If you believe you are bringing victory to the Brotherhood, it is your safe and secure departure that will allow the Brotherhood to go back to its role in the political process,” Abdel-Latif said.
He said that Islamist leaders at the sit-ins are controlling information and “brainwashing” the protesters into thinking the sit-ins are in defense of Islam.
The Interior Ministry said some of the sit-ins’ organizers were involved in “killings, torture and abductions.”
Last weekend, the Interior Ministry said 11 bodies were found near both protest sites, with some showing signs of torture.
The London-based rights group Amnesty International also said it had testimony of alleged killings and torture at the hands of Morsi supporters inside the sit-ins, including a witness who said he saw one man stabbed and another have his throat cut.
In a new allegation, Egypt’s state news agency reported Saturday that a 25 year-old worker was detained and violently beaten at one of the sit-ins. It quoted a security official as saying that the young man was found late Friday near a military factory south of Cairo with severe bruises and injuries. He told police he was abducted two days ago by pro-Morsi protesters who were participating in a march after he criticized them.
There are fears of more bloodshed if the sit-ins are dispersed by force. Already more than 280 people have been killed in violence since Morsi’s ouster. The bloodiest incident took place last week, when more than 80 pro-Morsi supporters were killed in clashes with police near the sit-in at Rabaah al-Adawiya Mosque.