Egypt protects liberals’ homes after death threat
Egyptian police deployed security at the homes of prominent liberal opponents of the government on Thursday after a hardline cleric called for their deaths and a secular politician was gunned down in Tunisia.
The killing on Wednesday of Chokri Belaid, an outspoken critic of Tunisia’s Islamist-led government, sent tremors through Egypt.
In both countries where “Arab Spring” uprisings swept away veteran authoritarian rulers, two years of political turmoil have exposed divisions between Islamists and their secular opponents.
On the same day, Egyptian liberal politician Mohamed el Baradei, former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, sounded the alarm over a hardline cleric’s call for his death.
The cleric, Mahmoud Shaaban, appeared on a religious television channel and said leaders of Egypt’s main opposition coalition would get a death sentence under sharia (Islamic law).
He specifically mentioned el Baradei, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, and former presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabahy.
President Mohamed Mursi, a member of the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood which has dominated democratic elections since mass protests ousted President Hosni Mubarak in 2011, condemned such comments as tantamount to “terrorism.”
But he renewed accusations that the liberal opposition was inciting unrest.
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