Cairo: Egyptian authorities have revoked a diplomatic passport held by Islamist leader Mohammad Mursi, two weeks after he was removed by the military from power.
“This move comes upon an official request from the presidency and in compliance with regulations for holding Egyptian passports,” said the Foreign Ministry on Friday. It explained that Mursi could no longer hold the passport because he “lost his [presidential] post”.
The military toppled Mursi on July 3, one year after he took office, following massive street protests against his rule. The army has since taken the Islamist leader in its custody.
The country’s interim rulers have repeatedly said Mursi is safe and treated well at an undisclosed location despite huge protests from his supporters demanding his release and return to power.
The Foreign Ministry also said that diplomatic passports have also been withdrawn from Mursi’s family and his aides.
The step was made public as Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood was preparing for what it dubbed as “Friday of breaking the coup” or massive protests against his overthrow.
Mursi’s loyalists, who have been camping in Raba’a Al Adawiya in north-eastern Cairo for more than two weeks, were on Friday joined by other supporters ferried to the location from outside Cairo to demand Mursi’s reinstatement.
Other pro-Mursi worshippers left Cairo mosques after noon prayer heading to the Raba’a Al Adawiya rally.
Rival demonstrators were, meanwhile, gathering in central Cairo’s Tahrir Square to show support for the army against what organisers call “terrorism” incited by the Brotherhood.
Armoured vehicles were positioned outside the nearby National Museum and parliament as volunteers manned checkpoints on the entrances to the iconic square to search participants in the rally also called to mark the 40th anniversary of the army’s victory over Israel.
At least 21 people, mostly soldiers, have been killed in lawless Sinai in attacks believed mounted by pro-Mursi Islamist insurgents since his overthrow. A hundred others have been killed in clashes involving Mursi’s backers, opponents and security forces in the past two weeks.
Fears were rife on Friday that Mursi’s backers and opponents will engage in fresh street violence.
On the eve of the demonstrations, interim president Adly Mansour, in his first address to the nation since taking office on June 4, vowed to re-establish stability in the country and foil what he called attempts to “drag Egypt into chaos”.