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Monday, July 1, 2013

Egyptians React to Army’s Ultimatum

Live video from Egypt’s ON TV shows the reaction in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, and across the country, to the army’s ultimatum giving President Mohamed Morsi 48 hours to resolve a political crisis.

As our colleagues David Kirkpatrick, Kareem Fahim and Ben Hubbard report, the head of the Egyptian military, Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, gave President Mohamed Morsi 48 hours “to respond to the people’s demands” or the armed forces would move to impose its “own road map for the future.”

Reaction to the general’s warning, in a statement read aloud on sate television, was swift, both online and on the streets of the capital, Cairo, where supporters and opponents of the president were still massed, one day after huge protests.

Reporting on Twitter from the scene of the anti-Morsi protest outside the presidential palace in Cairo, our colleague Kareem Fahim uploaded images of the mainly joyous response, tempered slightly by fears of a return to direct military rule by the Supre! me Council of the Armed Forces.

According to the Cairene blogger who writes as Egyptocracy, the president’s Islamist supporters could be seen on local television chanting defiantly about continuing to rule despite the threat.

The Dutch journalist Rena Netjes reported on Twitter that a television channel allied with the Musli! m Brother! hood warned that any threat to the Islamist president’s legitimacy as an elected leader was a line that should not be crossed.

Meanwhile, the Egyptian journalist Ahmed Ateyya noted, there were signs that state television appeared to have thrown its lot in with the opposition to Mr. Morsi.

Bassem Sabry, a Cairene film producer and political commentator, suggested that the timing of the military declaration, coming only 24 hours before the next round of opposition protests, seemed certain to encourage the president’s opponents.

Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi, a commentator on Arab affairs, observed on his popular Twitter feed that the deadline could mean that Mr. Morsi’s opponents now have little reason to compromise with him and his Islamist allies.

Mostafa Hussein, a psychiatrist and bloggr who has worked with torture victims, was quick to remind readers of one of the most notorious incidents of abuse during the period of military rule that followed the revolution, posting looped video of soldiers stomping on a female protester who had been stripped down to her blue bra and beaten in December 2011.

Writing on Twitter and Facebook, another activist, Omar Kamel, suggested that Egypt’s military was aiming to defend the “two-state solution,” by which it has been allowed to maintain f! ull contr! ol over its own affairs, including wide-ranging economic interests.

A third blogger and analyst, Mohamed El Dahshan, was more succinct in his comments.

As speculation about what might happen in the next 48 hurs ramped up, Egyptians were counting the cost of clashes between Morsi supporters and protesters that accompanied Sunday’s demonstrations.

Omar Robert Hamilton, an activist filmmaker, pointed to graphic footage from the local media collective Mosireen that appeared to show shots being fired on Sunday from inside the headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood in Cairo, where an attack by protesters was repelled with deadly force.

Another member of Mosireen, Sherief Gaber, reported from the morgue in Alexandria that the grim task of trying to sort out exactly what happened to those killed in clashes was once again under way.