Cairo (AsiaNews) - Several leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood are set to go to trial for "incitement to violence" on 25 August. The news reported yesterday could further radicalise the Brotherhood in its confrontation with the military following the overthrow of President Mohamed Morsi. Meanwhile, threats against Christians by pro-Morsi groups are increasing.
The Brotherhood's supreme leader, Mohammed Badie (pictured right), who is on the run, and two other leaders, Khairat al-Shater (pictured left) and Rashad Bayoumi, currently in jail, have been accused of inciting violence among their followers at the time of the massive anti-Morsi demonstrations on 30 June. Other members have also been accused of killing protesters.
Morsi, who is under house arrest, has also been accused of involvement in violence when Mubarak fell and of cooperation with Hamas, the Islamist movement that rules in the Gaza Strip and that has been blamed for a string of attacks against Egyptian soldiers in the Sinai.
However, the trial could drive the Brotherhood towards violence. Since Morsi's fall, its members continue to occupy two squares in Cairo, in spite of warnings and threats from the military and the Interior Ministry for the end of the demonstrations.
General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, head of the armed forces, continues to send tough messages alternating with calls for dialogue.
Yesterday, he met Salafist clerics Sheikh Mohammed Hassan and Mohammed Abdel Salam, who are close to the Muslim Brotherhood and Morsi, stressing "that there are opportunities for a peaceful solution to the crisis provided all sides reject violence," an army spokesman said.
However, the Brotherhood responded with a statement saying that the two Salafists had no mandate to negotiate on its behalf
In recent days, the United States, the European Union, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar have sent envoys to Cairo to seek a peaceful solution to the crisis. But as one Egyptian observer noted, all these representatives have come to see Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, but none have sought to see minority leaders.
In fact, the Muslim Brotherhood has made it clear that it does not intend to change its position. Morsi's removal is a coup and Brotherhood's members will continue to demonstrate for his reinstatement.
In a recent statement, Ayman al-Zawahiri, the medical doctor who heads al Qaeda, has come out in favour of the Muslim Brotherhood. He blamed Morsi's overthrow on "American plotting" with the backing of the military and the Coptic minority.
The last point highlights a growing danger for Christian communities who have seen a rise in violence since Morsi's ouster against individual Christians, priests, and churches. Indeed some priests have been murdered and various churches have been attacked and vandalised.
As if in response to Zawahiri's call, a group of pro-Morsi militants arrived at the Church of Saint George yesterday in Sohag (Upper Egypt) and placed an al Qaeda flag on the roof of the building, shouting slogans exalting Islam.
Also yesterday, groups of fundamentalists entered a church in Girga (Upper Egypt), shouting slogans against Patriarch Tawadros, threatening to do away with him.