Mohammed Mursi

Violence was Egypt's only solution, protest leader says

Man who helped oust president says bloodshed was price of freedom from Muslim Brotherhood

PUBLISHED : Monday, 19 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 19 August, 2013, 4:29am

Mahmoud Badr, whose petition campaign helped to bring down Egypt's Islamist president, insists the bloodshed that has followed was necessary to save the nation from the Muslim Brotherhood.

And he has a message for US President Barack Obama, who has expressed alarm at the violent crackdown on the Brotherhood that has led to more than 700 deaths: "Don't lecture us on how to deal with the Brotherhood's terrorism."

As for aid money, he says, Obama can keep it - and "go to hell". Washington provides US$1.3 billion in military aid and about US$250 million in economic aid to Egypt every year.

Badr, like many Egyptians who consider themselves liberals, has little patience with the rights groups who call the repression a setback for democracy.

"What Egypt is passing through now is the price, a high price, of getting rid of the Brotherhood's fascist group before it takes over everything and ousts us all," said Badr, 28.

Badr and his two young co-founders of the "Tamarud-Rebel" movement encouraged millions of Egyptians to take to the streets on June 30 in protests demanding the overthrow of president Mohammed Mursi.

Tamarud's protests led the army to remove Mursi on July 3, and nationwide violence erupted this week after security forces cracked down on supporters demanding his reinstatement.

Egypt's military leader vowed yesterday that the army would not allow further violence after days of political unrest. Defence Minister General Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi also reiterated the army has no intention of seizing power in the Arab world's most populous country.

Egypt's deputy prime minister was expected to propose a way out of a bloody confrontation when the cabinet discussed the crisis later yesterday.

But his ideas seemed to run counter to a suggestion by the prime minister to dissolve the Islamist organisation, the target of a crackdown by the army-backed government last week.

The initiative by Deputy Prime Minister Ziad Bahaa el-Din, a liberal, calls for an immediate end to the state of emergency, participation for all parties and guarantees of human rights, including the right to free assembly.

Cairo's streets, unusually empty in the past few days, were returning to normal yesterday.

Badr, a journalist, believes the pivotal Arab nation could be descending into civil war. But he still thinks ousting Egypt's first freely elected president was the right decision and defended the military's conduct.

"I did not see anything bad from the army. They did not interfere in politics and I am a witness to that," Badr said.

Like army chief General Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi, Badr sees the Brotherhood as a terrorist group that is a threat to Egypt.

"The Brotherhood protesters are armed and attack people and places and that is why there were victims from the police in the clashes," he said.

The interior ministry says 57 policemen had been killed since Wednesday and 563 others wounded. "No policeman was killed or wounded during our protests," Badr said.

Brotherhood leaders have alleged that former cronies of autocrat Hosni Mubarak funded and encouraged Tamarud.