Egypt’s main opposition group on Saturday backed calls to oust Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi and demanded he go on trial after deadly clashes left the Islamist leader scrambling to contain fallout from footage of police brutality.
The opposition National Salvation Front (NSF) demanded Morsi be prosecuted for “killings and torture,” as it urged Egyptians to stage peaceful protests.
“The Salvation Front completely sides with the people and its active forces’ calls to topple the authoritarian regime and the Muslim Brotherhood’s control,” it said in a statement.
It said Morsi should be put on trial after an “impartial investigation” and ruled out dialogue with the presidency until “the bloodletting stops and those responsible for it are held accountable.”
However, in a possible sign of differences in a troubled coalition that comprises liberals and leftists, NSF members disagreed on the statement’s intent.
“We are calling for the downfall of the regime of tyranny, not the regime,” NSF spokesman Khaled Dawoud said, explaining that it meant “the abuse of citizens and torture and ignoring the demands of the opposition.”
However, another NSF member, Hussein Abdel Ghani, said: “I think this statement can be read to mean only one thing, which is to topple Morsi’s government.”
Sporadic clashes broke out overnight between protesters demanding the ouster of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi and security forces outside the presidential palace, witnesses said yesterday.
There were no immediate reports of casualties from the confrontations, which followed violent clashes on Friday outside the presidential palace that left one person dead.
Late on Saturday several hundred mostly young protesters again gathered outside the compound and threw stones and gasoline bombs at its walls, a reporter said.
One protester said they were there to pay homage to the young man killed on Friday, and they chanted “Leave!” and “The people want the regime to fall!” — slogans used two years earlier to oust former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak.
In Friday’s clashes, a 23-year-old was shot dead and 91 people were injured, a medic said, and the interior ministry said 15 of its men were wounded by birdshot.
Security forces deployed outside the palace grounds fired tear gas late on Saturday when a group of protesters tried to storm one of the gates, the witnesses said, but Republican Guards inside the compound did not intervene.
“We no longer respond to provocation from certain protesters outside the palace,” the commander of the guards, General Mohammed Ahmad Zaki, was quoted as saying by the state-run MENA news agency.
Meanwhile, the NSF called for the resignation of Egyptian Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim after a video showing a naked man being beaten by police went viral on the Internet.
The beating was “an inhumane spectacle ... no less ugly than the killings of martyrs, which is considered a continuation of the security force’s programme of excessive force,” the opposition bloc said.
Ibrahim has ordered a probe to “hold accountable” those responsible and will resign if “that’s what the people want,” his office said.
The presidency also scrambled to contain fallout from the footage.
A statement said the presidency was “pained by the shocking footage of some policemen treating a protester in a manner that does not accord with human dignity and human rights,” but described the incident as an “isolated act.”
Prosecutors say Hameda Saber, a 48-year-old construction painter, was found carrying gasoline bombs.
State television aired overnight a recording of Saber, lying on bed in a police hospital, giving his account of the incident, in which he blamed protesters for stripping and robbing him.
It was not clear how his account could be reconciled with the widely seen footage, which clearly showed police beating him with truncheons and dragging him naked across a road.
Additional reporting by Reuters