CAIRO -- One week after Egypts military ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, his followers in the Muslim Brotherhood are under siege and struggling with no clear strategy to find a way back into the political arena.
The political wing of the movement Wednesday rejected any role in the interim government now being assembled or in elections that are to follow in the next six months. A spokesman said the Brotherhood is hoping that nationwide protests will somehow return Egypts first ever democratically elected leader to power.
They will collapse within days, said Mohamed Zidan, a spokesman for the Brotherhoods Freedom and Justice Party, speaking of the interim government headed by Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi, 76, a former finance minister. As for Morsis supporters, Our first reaction will be in the streets and the squares. We are not going to leave the squares for one day, for one week, for our lives.
Morsi, his powerful deputy, Khairat el-Shaiter, and four other senior associates are now under arrest. On Wednesday, the first day of Ramadan, the newly named states attorney issued arrest warrants for nine others, including Mohammed Badie, the Muslim Brotherhoods supreme leader. Government officials said none was immediately arrested, however.
Egypts prosecutor-general ordered 206 people held for further investigation following a clash between the military and Morsi backers at the Republican Guard headquarters in Cairo, in which at least 55 people died. Another 446 were released on bail.
In another development, Kuwait became the latest Gulf Arab state to throw its support behind the new military-backed government, pledging $4 billion in aid and fuel to the $8 billion promised Tuesday by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Zidan acknowledged that many normal people are not happy with Morsis performance in his year in office, which ended July 3, three days after the June 30 anniversary of his taking office.
But he said Morsis future is not negotiable.
You can kill 10 million people. I will be in the street, Zidan said.
He predicted the pro-Morsi demonstrations would be much bigger than the estimated 13 million to 20 million who turned out to oppose him, in demonstrations that began June 30 and lasted until the military made its move.
Zidan said the protests will remain peaceful but that Morsis backers are ready to die.
I dont want to live this life without democracy, he told McClatchy. Citing 7th century Islamic history, he referred to Hamza, the Prophet Muhammads uncle, who died while defending his nephew, as the best martyr, for hed spoken truth to tyrants. Hamza is sometimes called the Chief of the Martyrs.
The Freedom and Justice Party no longer has a formal headquarters its Cairo offices were burned last week, and Zidan said he couldnt venture out into the city for fear of arrest. To interview him Wednesday, two McClatchy reporters had to proceed on foot into a sort of no-mans land that gave a sense of the siege under which Morsi supporters now operate. Armored personnel carriers and paddy wagons are stationed at the foot of Gamat el Dewal street, near the Cairo zoo in the upscale Giza section. Beyond them, Muslim Brotherhood security personnel have thrown up a barbed-wire barrier, where they demanded press credentials before admitting the reporters onto the sun-baked street.