19 July, 2013

We are 'willing to die' for democracy, senior Muslim Brotherhood official says

We are 'willing to die' for democracy, senior Muslim Brotherhood official says

Asmaa Waguih / Reuters

Supporters of deposed Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi chant slogans during a rally on Thursday.
By Henry Austin, NBC News contributor

A senior Muslim Brotherhood official has warned that supporters of toppled Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi are "willing to die" for their cause ahead of nationwide protests scheduled for Friday.

Gehad El-Haddad, an adviser and spokesman for the Islamist group, said the Brotherhood was determined to reverse the military overthrow of Egypt’s first democratically elected president.

“We have our own belief in the democratic system and we are willing to die for it,” El-Haddad told NBC News, urging millions to take to the streets in cities across the country on Friday. “We might end up on the streets facing military bullets tearing through our flesh but the Egyptian people will face a 60-year cycle of a new military dictatorship that will rob their freedom with short-term promises.

Amr Abdallah Dalsh / Reuters

A member of the Muslim Brotherhood reads the Quran early Friday.

“Our children will suffer the consequences, not us. The military has to be pushed back into the barracks or the only alternative is killing.”

The Muslim Brotherhood, and allies grouped in what it calls the National Alliance for Legitimacy, urged the nationwide rallies on Friday.

"To every free Egyptian man and woman: Come out against the bloody military coup," the alliance said in a statement.

El-Haddad insisted that reinstating democracy was the heart of the Brotherhood's protests.

“It’s not about Morsi anymore,” he said. “The people had a set of choices and they voted. I accept that President Morsi wasn’t doing a very good job but the president of France hasn’t been doing a very good job, but they don’t take him down with the army.

"[President George W.] Bush was doing the worst [job] in the world, but Congress didn’t take him down. They needed votes to do that. They needed the democratic system.”

El-Haddad conceded that Morsi, whose whereabouts remain unclear, had made mistakes during his 12 months in office. He was elected to a four-year term following the revolution which ousted autocratic Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

“We are trying to build a democracy in a country that never had one, literally since the time of the pharaohs," he said. "At the end of the day we are all amateurs on that scene. There was no political life in Egypt before.”

At least 99 people have died in violence since Morsi's downfall, more than half of them when troops fired on Islamist protesters outside a Cairo barracks on July 8.

Slideshow: Egypt's military ousts President Mohammed Morsi

Hussein Malla / AP

Days of massive protests and a military ultimatum forced the country's first democratically elected president from office.

El-Haddad insisted that the Brotherhood would "not resort to violence."

Meanwhile, Egypt's interim President Adli Mansour promised on Thursday to fight those driving the nation towards "chaos."

In his first public address since he was sworn in on July 4, Mansour pledged to restore stability and security.

"Some want a bloody path," he said in a televised address. "We will fight a battle for security until the end."

U.S. aid to Egypt was formally put under review last week in the wake of the military-backed power shift. U.S. law requires that aid be cut off to a country that undergoes a military coup, but Western leaders have stopped short of declaring the July 3 transition a coup.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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