Authorities operating under the military’s protection swept up Morsi associates in a flurry of arrests and warrants, placing the Brotherhood even further on the defensive.
Brotherhood-allied leaders responded by calling for a “day of resistance” on Friday, with nationwide protests planned after the traditional midday prayers. Although organizers called on supporters to remain peaceful, such rallies in the past have led to deadly clashes, and residents of Cairo and other areas braced for more chaos.
Egypt’s new president, a virtual unknown named Adly Mansour, vowed to include all sections of society, including Islamists, in an interim coalition government shortly after he was sworn in Thursday. But even as he spoke, an arrest warrant was issued for Mohammed Badie, the Muslim Brotherhood’s “supreme guide.”
An arrest warrant also was issued for Khairat al-Shater, a wealthy businessman who serves as Badie’s deputy and was widely seen as one of the real powers behind the Morsi presidency.
Morsi and his top aides were placed under house arrest at a military residence. At least three other Brotherhood officials were taken into custody.
In a statement late Wednesday, President Obama had urged the Egyptian military “to avoid any arbitrary arrests of President Morsi and his supporters.” But with the crackdown against the Brotherhood underway and with several pro-Islamist media outlets shuttered, many Egyptians feared a new cycle of retribution and repression.
The moves against Morsi and his closest allies represent a dramatic fall for the Muslim Brotherhood, which spent more than 80 years in brutally repressed opposition under successive Egyptian military autocrats, only to see their hold on the presidency end after 368 days.
Morsi’s ouster cheered millions of Egyptians who had grown frustrated with his failure to address the country’s debilitating economic woes and his apparent efforts to consolidate power for the Muslim Brotherhood. Mass demonstrations in recent days helped precipitate the military’s move to remove him from office.
Morsi’s Brotherhood backers must now decide how to respond. The group is vastly outgunned by the military, one of the most powerful in the Middle East. But acquiescing to the military could leave the organization looking weak and defeated.
So far, Brotherhood leaders have signaled defiance.
Murad Ali, a spokesman for the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, said the military’s action represented “a dictatorship, and we are not accepting it.”