AFP – The United States on Monday “strongly” condemned the recent violence in Egypt, where 72 people were killed in an attack on a rally in favour of ousted president Mohamed Morsi.
“The United States strongly condemns the bloodshed and violence” in Cairo and Alexandria, the White House said in a statement, urging the military-backed interim government to respect the rights of demonstrators.
Egypt, a key US ally, has been violently polarised since the July 3 overthrow of Morsi — the country’s first elected president — in a military coup triggered by massive demonstrations against his year-long rule.
Cairo and the northern city of Alexandria have since seen massive rival rallies that have often turned violent, with Morsi supporters battling political opponents and the police.
The United States has refrained from calling Morsi’s overthrow a “coup” — which would require the freezing of some $1.3 billion in annual military aid — instead calling for a swift transition to elected, civilian rule.
Morsi hails from the Muslim Brotherhood, one of the region’s largest and best organised Islamist movements, which prevailed in a series of elections held after the secular autocrat Hosni Mubarak was toppled in a popular uprising in 2011.
Supporters of Morsi — who has been held incommunicado since his overthrow — have called for a million-man march on Tuesday, raising fears of more street clashes.
Egypt is a key US ally in the Middle East and one of just two Arab nations to have signed a peace treaty with Israel.