Exclusive: Egypt's ambassador to Britain has said the military-led offensive on the opposition set out to be no different from the British response to the 2011 London riots, but turned bloody when the Muslim Brotherhood started firing on the security forces.
An Egyptian security force kicks a Morsi supporter near Cairo University this week Photo: AP
By Damien McElroy
2:29PM BST 19 Aug 2013
Ashraf ElKholy told the Telegraph that the Muslim Brotherhood offered Egypt a stark choice that it either exercise power or it would assert itself with violence. When the military-backed interim government displaced the Muslim Brotherhood's popularly elected leader, Mohammad Morsi, the organisation opted for confrontation with the state.
"There is no difference with what David Cameron did to deal with the demonstrations here in London," he said. "If the demonstrators don't have any weapons, the police could have reached them and taken them into custody. Nobody would have been hurt. But when the demonstrators have pistols and guns and the police are lined up with guns pointing at them, the authorities have to defend themselves. That is the difference."
Speaking in Egypt's embassy in a Mayfair townhouse, Mr Kholy compared the one-year rule of Mr Morsi to the Islamist takeover of the Iranian state after the 1979 revolution and said that, like Nazism, the Muslim Brotherhood ideology sought to dominate Egyptian society.
"Morsi was elected president and held office for one year but in that time he tried to make everything Muslim Brotherhood controlled. Egyptian culture over 5,000 years is a mix of religions and civilisations in which the Islamic religion is one ingredient of the Egyptian character," he said. "The Muslim Brotherhood are like a Nazi group that demand that everything changes and people everything to their way."
However, Mr Kholy said that the roadmap offered by the interim government for a return to democracy remained in place and that while the Muslim Brotherhood could be banned, its political wing, the Freedom and Justice Party, could contest the polls.
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A senior Tory MP has called for Mr Kholy to be removed from the UK for his remarks that the protestors were being killed by their own side. Crispin Blunt reiterated the call as he criticised the government's response to the crisis as ineffective.
"Given that this is an administration that has completely ignored our warnings, there is no benefit in trying to keep normal lines of communication open to it. It has made itself illegitimate," said Crispin Blunt, a former justice minister who has visited Egypt in the last month.
"Its ambassador should be dismissed. Plainly there are any number of economic, development and travel measures that should also be considered. These are all measures that I believe almost all of our EU allies would support to make crystal clear just what our values are."
Mr Kholy said that his remarks represented his views on the events in his home country and that he felt people in Britain were getting a distorted picture of responsibility for the bloodshed.
"I have not been requested by my government or the foreign ministry to do this," he said. "We feel there is an imbalance in the media coverage and there is a need to show footage of Muslim Brotherhood attacks that is not there on television."
The ambassador, a career diplomat, said he had told the Foreign Office that it should adopt a statesman-like approach to events in Egypt, considering the long-term interests and not rushing to impose punishments.
"Europe is the conscience of the world. No one can say violence is good but there should be recognition from European governments that there is action and reaction that leads to more life lost," he said. "I think we are beginning to see recognition that Muslim Brotherhood is involved in the violence from Europe's governments."
William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, acknowledged the government's options were limited in an interview with the Today programme.
"Our influence may be limited - it is a proudly independent country - and there may be years of turbulence in Egypt and other countries going through this profound debate about the nature of democracy and the role of religion in their society.
"We have to do our best to promote democratic institutions and political dialogue and to keep faith with the majority of Egyptians who just want a peaceful and stable country."
And the Foreign Secretary added: "What is happening now in the Middle East is the most important event so far of the 21st century, even compared to the financial crisis we have been through and its impact on world affairs.
"I think it will take years, maybe decades, to play out, and through that we have to keep our nerve in clearly supporting democracy, democratic institutions, promoting dialogue and there will be many setbacks in doing that and we should be surprised when they take place."
Mr Hague said the loss of Mohamed ElBaradei from the interim government was a blow and a "bad sign" and reflected Britain's own concerns over violence and force used to clear protests.
"Yes, our attitude has changed, and it is has changed in what needs to be done in the condemnation we have issued of these actions," he said.