A new wave of protests for and against Mohamed Morsi sprung up around Egypt this Friday. The demonstrators are responding to Friday morning reports that Morsi, Egypt's former president, is under investigation for murder, espionage, and kidnapping.
The charges allude to Morsi's 2011 escape from Wadi Natroun, wherein officials believe Morsi conspired with the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas to not only break from the prison, but also kill and kidnap Egyptian police officers and soldiers. A judicial order declared Morsi is to be detained another 15 days for questioning.
General Abdul-Fattah Sisi, who led Morsi's overthrow and capture on July 3, called for widespread demonstrations this Friday, saying that "public support would give him a 'mandate' to fight terrorism." ("Mandate" is often used to refer to crackdowns on the Muslim Brotherhood.)
Immediately after, Morsi supporters gathered for demonstrations of their own. Some even deemed Sisi's statement as a rally call for "civil war."
Whether or not that's true, it is likely that Morsi's most recent charges will stir up more violence throughout Egypt. Morsi's opponents and supporters have been clashing all month. The worst came on July 8, when police officers and soldiers released fire onto a crowd of Morsi supporters, killing 62.
If anything, analysts suspect these charges reveal the Egyptian military's ambition to wipe out the Muslim Brotherhood altogether.
Emad Shahin, a political science professor at the American University of Cairo, told the New York Times, "This is a preparation for eliminating the Brotherhood. And of course it reduces the chance of Morsi coming back in any way."
Since Morsi's ousting both Western and Arab diplomats have tried to act as mediators between the Egyptian military and the Muslim Brotherhood, but have made little progress. The Muslim Brotherhood has, of course, been arguing for Morsi's reinstatement ever since the military (and popular support) forced him to relinquish his power on July 3. The Brotherhood is still demanding that the Army hold negotiations with party leaders. But the army remains resolute in its decision to keep members of the Muslim Brotherhood away from the levers of power.
Friday's order was the first official statement since Morsi's overthrow explaining his judicial status.