The Muslim Brotherhood, which backs Morsi, called on its supporters Monday to protest the revived power of the security forces by demonstrating in front of Interior Ministry offices around the country, raising fears of further violence after police and their plainclothes allies killed at least 80 Morsi supporters Saturday.
Egyptian authorities detained two leaders of the moderate Islamist al-Wasat party on Monday, in an apparent broadening of a crackdown on Islamist political activity. The arrests occurred even as the Obama administration condemned the violence and called for Catherine Ashton, a top European Union official visiting Cairo, to be granted access to Morsi. He has been held incommunicado since the Egyptian army deposed him on July 3.
In a striking sign of the widening split in Egyptian society, many of the liberal and secular groups that revolted in 2011 are welcoming the resurrection of the forces they had once joined the Islamists in condemning.
Some of the secularists said they were worn out from more than two years of rising crime, and feared a burgeoning insurgency in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, which they said justifies the revitalization of the counterterrorism force.
“It’s a reconciliation,” said Ehab Samir, a top official of the Free Egyptians Party, a secular political party that supported Morsi’s ouster. “You can’t stay at odds with them. Your security is dependent on having a strong police force.”
The possibility of a vastly expanded security state initially appeared to unsettle Tamarod, or Rebel, the movement that organized the June protests leading to Morsi’s exit. Last weekend, the group said on its Web site that “there is no way to accept the return of [former president Hosni] Mubarak’s State Security.”
But by Monday, the criticism had softened.
“We appreciate the burden on the Interior Ministry and the state, because they are facing an 80-year-old organization” — the Muslim Brotherhood — “that is ready to drag the country into a civil war,” Mohamed Abdel-Aziz, a Tamarod spokesman, said in an interview.
The Muslim Brotherhood has said it simply wants the return of the democratically elected president.