Interior Ministry activated
Egypt’s Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim on Saturday denied that his troops had fired on protesters, but he indicated that the country’s security forces planned to press on with a strategy to clear the pro-Morsi demonstrations that have shut down roads and squares in the capital since the July 3 coup.
“There is full coordination between us and the armed forces to determine the appropriate time to break up the Rabaa sit-in after the prosecution is done investigating complaints filed by area residents, so that there is a legal basis for it,” Ibrahim said, referring to the Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque in eastern Cairo, where the pro-Morsi camp is based. He said the protests would be dispersed “soon.”
In a signal of a broader crackdown, Ibrahim also said the state’s vast internal security apparatus, which had been handicapped after the 2011 uprising that ousted President Hosni Mubarak, would again begin monitoring political and religious activities, as it had under Mubarak.
Ibrahim said the “restructuring” of the Interior Ministry and the “abolition of certain departments” had allowed extremists to flourish. “Safety cannot be restored without political security,” he added.
Police later released a video that showed demonstrators hurling rocks at security forces and setting fires. At least one man fired a gun.
Judicial authorities told independent newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm on Saturday that they were investigating jailed Muslim Brotherhood leaders in connection with the overnight violence, alleging that the group had hired snipers to shoot its own followers.
Egyptian security forces have detained hundreds of Morsi supporters, including a number of top Muslim Brotherhood officials and presidential aides, since the coup.
Prosecutors said Friday that they had launched an investigation into allegations that Morsi had conspired with the militant Palestinian organization Hamas in a 2011 prison break that freed him and about 30 other Muslim Brotherhood members amid the chaos of the uprising that ousted Mubarak.
The Brotherhood and Hamas separately denied the charges, dismissing them as politically motivated.
The allegations, which also included murder and kidnapping, marked the state’s first official steps toward prosecuting Morsi.
The military has held Morsi, Egypt’s first democratically elected president, incommunicado in an undisclosed location since the his ouster. Military officials indicated to the Associated Press on Friday that they were leading the investigation against him and had interrogated him repeatedly in the past three weeks.