Kerry concerned over Egypt crackdown

2013-12-27 09:07
John Kerry

John Kerry (File: AFP)

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Washington - US Secretary of State John Kerry expressed concern on Thursday over Egypt's intensified crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood after the military-installed government declared it a terrorist group.

In a phone call with his counterpart in Cairo Nabil Fahmy, Kerry condemned a suicide bombing in Mansoura on Tuesday and Thursday's bus bombing in Cairo, state department spokesperson Jen Psaki said in a statement.

The top American diplomat also "expressed concern about the interim Egyptian government's 25 December terrorist designation of the Muslim Brotherhood, and recent detentions and arrests," Psaki said.

Egypt has blamed deposed president Mohammed Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood for Tuesday's suicide bombing, which was claimed by a jihadist group.

In response, Cairo declared the Brotherhood a terrorist group and Thursday rounded up members of the group, which had long been Egypt's best organized political and social movement.

During the phone call, Kerry and Fahmy "agreed that there can be no place for violence in Egypt and that the Egyptian people deserve peace and calm", Psaki said.

But Kerry also "underscored the need for an inclusive political process across the political spectrum that respects the fundamental human rights of all Egyptians in order to achieve political stability and democratic change."

Cairo's latest moves cap a dramatic fall for the Brotherhood since Morsi was overthrown on 3 July amid massive protests accusing him of betraying the 2011 "revolution" that toppled Hosni Mubarak by allegedly consolidating power in the hands of the Islamist group.

The Brotherhood still organises almost daily protests, despite the fact that more than 1 000 people, mainly Islamists, have been killed in street clashes in recent months and thousands more arrested, including the Brotherhood's top leadership.

Meanwhile, Psaki said Kerry also "raised the need to redress the verdicts" against NGO representatives - referring to the June 2013 conviction of 43 Egyptian and foreign NGO workers to jail terms ranging from one to five years.

The sentences caused outrage abroad and raised fears for the future of civil society work in Egypt.

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