Military defends ouster of Morsy
CAIRO — In a battle over the narrative of what has happened here during the past eight dramatic days, the new Egyptian government accused former President Mohamed Morsy on Thursday of being obstinate in his final days, claimed that his supporters in the Muslim Brotherhood had killed some of their own to frame the military and asserted that its decision to oust Morsy may have saved the nation from “possible civil war.”
In a rare briefing with foreign reporters three days after a shootout with Morsy supporters that claimed 55 lives, military and government spokesmen used unusually provocative language to describe the Muslim Brotherhood, the secretive organization through which Morsy ascended to the presidency and that was, until a few days ago, the country's dominant political power.
The military defended its decision to remove Morsy on July 3 and name a new president, and it accused the Muslim Brotherhood of conducting a “propaganda war,” though it was clear the spokesmen were waging a counteroffensive, all but calling the Brotherhood an enemy of the state, even as they pleaded with it to join the new government.
The war of words pits the country's best-organized political movement against its most revered national institution, and there seemed little reason to expect anything approaching reconciliation.
The news conference began with a broadside from the spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that offered no quarter.
“What we have witnessed over the past year is some kind of exclusion. That is not going to happen again,” Badr Abdelatty said in his opening comments, referring to the allegation that the Muslim Brotherhood had maneuvered to make certain it held all the reins of power. Minutes later, he said that in the days leading up to Monday's shooting, the Brotherhood engaged in an “incitement campaign.”
“We have a just cause because the people went to the streets, and nobody can move against the will of the people,” Abdelatty said.
Military spokesman Col. Ahmed Mohammed Ali and Mohammed Badr Eldin Zayed, the chairman of the State Information Service, joined in the assault. The officials said Morsy was being “held for his safety.” He hasn't been charged “yet,” Ali said.
Ali said the Muslim Brotherhood had used increasingly vitriolic language against the military in the days that led up to the violent confrontation on Monday with Morsy supporters near the Republican Guard headquarters, where many Morsy partisans think the deposed president is being held.
Ali said the military had worked hard to avoid bloodshed. It passed water to the crowds and tried to calm tensions with talk. But around dawn Monday, the Brotherhood tried to storm the Republican Guard headquarters, Ali said. The military used tear gas, rubber bullets and blank rounds before firing live ammunition.