Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi warned opponents Sunday that he would act against the Muslim Brotherhood’s opponents if rioting continues.
Morsi’s threat followed violent demonstrations Friday at the Muslim Brotherhood headquarters that left 160 people injured.
“If investigations prove that certain political figures are implicated, the necessary measures will be taken against them, whatever their status,” Morsi said on his Twitter account on Sunday, also carried on state television. “If I have to do what it takes to protect this country, I will do it.”
He accused Egypt’s media of being used by the opposition to stoke violence.
“I urge all political forces not to provide any political cover for acts of violence and rioting. I will not be happy if investigations prove the guilt of some politicians,” Morsi said.
Widespread rioting and demonstrations between opponents and the Brotherhood have been a regular part of Egyptian life since Morsi announced he was assuming emergency powers last November.
Exactly what Morsi intends to do remains to be seen. He declared states of emergency in three cities near the Suez Canal in January to combat violence there, but Yasser El-Shimy, an Egypt analyst for the International Crisis Group, told Lebanon’s Daily Star that a broader state of emergency is unlikely.
“My impression is that Mursi and the Brotherhood in general have had it with violence that is taking place and they are running out of patience,” El-Shimy said. “This definitely is the strictest he has spoken regarding the rioting. Now Mursi feels there is enough public opinion on his side to justify taking stricter measures.”
Opponents see Morsi’s words as a not-so-veiled threat to use more repressive measures against dissenters.
“We can expect the worst. Morsi’s threat signals the death of the state of law. They show that he is president only of the Muslim Brotherhood,” Khaled Daud, spokesman of the National Salvation Front opposition coalition, told Agence France Presse.
Michael Meunier, a Coptic Christian who heads Egypt’s Al-Haya Party and a member of the National Salvation Front, tells the Investigative Project on Terrorism that Morsi will have to make good on his threat to keep his credibility.
However, he has proven erratic in the past when it has come to carrying out his threats, which Meunier said makes it difficult when it comes to predicting what he will do.
Morsi’s condemnation of violence by opponents amid his simultaneous refusal to condemn violence on the part of his supporters against dissenters likely will lead to civil war, Meunier said.