EGYPTIAN ambassador to Australia Hassan El-Laithy has defended the Egyptian military’s violent retaliation against Muslim Brotherhood protesters after a meeting with Australian government officials today.
Dr El-Laithy held private talks with representatives from the Australian government, who reportedly expressed “grave concerns” about the escalating violence engulfing the Middle Eastern nation. The protests began after the government of President Mohamed Morsi was deposed by the Egyptian military last month.
Dr El-Laithy spoke with Fairfax Media after his meeting with Australian officials, calling the violence in Egypt “very saddening” whilst defending the military taking decisive action against protestors. He said that the military action was in the best interests of the majority of Egyptian people and rejected claims that the response has been excessive.
Dr El-Laithy said: “Of course violence is always an unwanted reality. The lives of hundreds of thousands, even millions of people in Cairo were just taken hostage because those key places in Cairo were blocked. They have suspended all sorts of life in that area.
“If you are advised to go peacefully, if you claim you are a peaceful demonstration and on the contrary you challenge the rule of law and discipline… I think there should be a kind of responsibility of the government to bring law and order.”
Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Bob Carr said that the government had urged both the Egyptian military and protestors to exercise restraint and prevent violence for escalating further. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) have issued a travel advisory that further violence is likely, with hundreds of Egyptians having already been killed in clashes this week.
According to DFAT around 3000 Australians are currently in Egypt, most of which are permanent residents or hold dual Egyptian nationality. Australian citizens have been warned to avoid public demonstrations or gatherings in order to prevent unnecessary risk.
The Australian government joined with France and the United Kingdom this week to call for a United Nations Security Council briefing on the violence in Egypt, with the meeting determining that an end to clashes between the military and protestors was imperative. Dr El-Laithy said that he hoped that the Egyptian people could unite and resume the democratisation process soon.
Dr El-Laithy said: “I hope those who are really making that confrontation will be resulting to very peaceful way of expressing their views and to accept the invitations for reconciliation and to respect law and order for the sake of the whole country.”