CAIRO — One day after at least 72 people were shot dead in a crackdown by Egyptian security forces, thousands of Muslim Brotherhood supporters stood their ground near a Cairo mosque on Sunday and braced for further moves against them by the army chief who ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi.
Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi made his first appearance since Saturday’s bloodshed, smiling for television cameras at a graduation ceremony for police recruits.
Fawning coverage in state and private media reflected General el-Sissi’s rising political star in a country ruled by former military officers for six decades before Mr. Morsi’s election in 2012.
Saturday’s killings, one day after rival mass rallies, fueled global anxiety that the most populous and influential Arab nation risked broader conflagration.
The European Union said it was sending foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton to meet today with General el-Sissi and the interim president he installed, as well as officials of the Freedom and Justice Party, the Muslim Brotherhood’s political wing.
Ms. Ashton said she would press for a “fully inclusive transition process, taking in all political groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood.”
The Brotherhood accuses the military of reversing the 2011 uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak and demands that Mr. Morsi, Egypt’s first freely elected president, be reinstated.
Mr. Morsi has been detained since his July 3 overthrow and the military-backed interim government has placed him under investigation on charges including murder.
Authorities have indicated that they will move soon to clear the Brotherhood’s tent vigil.
Army vehicles surrounded entrances to the square outside the mosque in northern Cairo where Brotherhood supporters have gathered.
The Interior Ministry has rejected witness accounts that police fired on the crowds. A public prosecutor has started an inquiry into the violence.
Cairo was quiet on Sunday, but violent clashes rattled the Suez Canal city of Port Said, where security sources said two people were killed.
Guidelines: Please keep your comments smart and civil. Don't attack other readers personally, and keep your language decent. Comments that violate these standards, or our privacy statement or visitor's agreement, are subject to being removed and commenters are subject to being banned. To post comments, you must be a registered user on toledoblade.com. To find out more, please visit the FAQ.