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Mubarak-era figures reemerging in Egypt

Backers of Morsi urge protests today

Muslim Brotherhood members and supporters of the ousted president held his portrait as thousands rallied in Cairo.MAHMOUD KHALED/AFP/Getty Images

CAIRO — Remnants of Egypt’s old autocratic government reasserted themselves on Thursday within hours of the military’s ouster of the country’s first freely elected president, in a crackdown that left scores of his Muslim Brotherhood backers under arrest, their television stations closed, and former officials restored to powerful posts.

The actions provided the first indications of what Egypt’s new political order could look like after Mohammed Morsi, the Islamist president in power for only a year, was deposed by Egypt’s military commanders on Wednesday evening.

The commanders, who installed an interim civilian leader, said they had acted to bring the country back together after millions of Egyptians demonstrated against Morsi, claiming he had arrogated power, polarized society, and pushed the country into a steep economic crisis.

But Morsi’s downfall and the swift effort that followed to repress the Muslim Brotherhood deeply angered many of its constituents. They called for demonstrations nationwide on Friday, which could provide a telling test of tolerance by the interim government and its claims of wanting to represent all segments of Egypt’s population.

By late Thursday, it was already clear that the forced change of power, which had the trappings of a military coup wrapped in a popular revolt, had only aggravated the most seething division — that between the Muslim Brotherhood and the security apparatus built up by Hosni Mubarak, the president toppled in Egypt’s 2011 revolution.

The divisions belied a stately ceremony in the country’s highest court, where a little-known judge was sworn in as the new acting head of state. The interim president, the chief justice of the Supreme Constitutional Court, Adly Mansour, said he looked forward to parliamentary and presidential elections that would express the “true will of the people.” Mansour praised the military’s intervention so that Egypt could “correct the path of its glorious revolution.”

Fighter jets screamed through the Cairo skies, and fireworks burst over huge celebrations in Tahrir Square.

Chief Justice Adly Mansour is Egypt’s interim president.

Amr Abdallah Dalsh/REUTERS

Chief Justice Adly Mansour is Egypt’s interim president.

At the same time, security forces held Morsi incommunicado in an undisclosed location, Islamist broadcast outlets were closed, and prosecutors sought the arrest of hundreds of Morsi’s Brotherhood colleagues, in a sign that they had the most to lose in Egypt’s latest political convulsion.

“What kind of national reconciliation starts with arresting people?” said Ebrahem el-Erian after security officials came to his family home before dawn to try to arrest his father, Essam el-Erian, a Brotherhood official. “This is complete exclusion.”

Many of the most significant political shifts pointed to the reassertion of the “deep state,” a term often used for the powerful branches of the Mubarak-era government that remained in place after he had been deposed.

Much of that state apparatus has always shown deep distrust of Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, despite their clear victories in parliamentary and presidential elections.

Morsi never succeeded in asserting his control over the military, the security services, the judiciary, or the sprawling state bureaucracy. Nor did he succeed in dismantling the support network that Mubarak and his National Democratic Party cultivated through nearly 30 years in power.

So once the military removed Morsi, many of these elements set their sights on him and his group.

“What do you call it when the police, state security, old members of the National Democratic Party, the media all rally to bring down the regime?” asked Emad Shahin, a political science professor at the American University in Cairo. “Is that a revolution? If this is the revolution, so be it.”

In his swearing-in address, Mansour offered an olive branch to the Islamists, saying they were part of Egyptian society and deserved to participate in the political process. The National Salvation Front, an umbrella opposition group that had pushed for Morsi’s ouster, also called for an inclusive political process.

But in less than 24 hours after the military’s intervention, prosecutors issued arrest warrants for at least 200 Islamists, most of them members of the Muslim Brotherhood. All were wanted on accusations of incitement to kill demonstrators.

Jubilant Egyptians waved flags as army jets flew over Cairo Thursday.


Jubilant Egyptians waved flags as army jets flew over Cairo Thursday.

Dozens were arrested, including Mohammed Badie, the group’s supreme guide; his deputy, Rashad Bayoumi; and the head of its political wing, Saad el-Katatni. Also on the wanted list was Khairat el-Shater, the group’s powerful financier.

The arrest campaign recalled the Muslim Brotherhood’s decades as a banned organization under autocratic rulers.

“This is a police state back in action, and the same faces that were ousted with the Mubarak regime are now appearing on talk shows as analysts,” said a Brotherhood spokesman, Gehad el-Haddad, during an interview with Al-Jazeera’s English satellite channel.

He repeated a conspiracy theory often cited by Islamists: What appeared to be an easing of electricity cuts and petrol shortages in recent days indicated that the shortfalls had been artificially created to feed discontent.

“Did someone push a magic button, or was this all part of a plot?” el-Haddad asked.

In a statement, the Brotherhood denounced “the military coup against the elected president and the will of the nation” and said it would refuse to deal with any resulting authority. Morsi’s supporters said their protests Friday would be meant to “denounce the military coup against legitimacy and in support of the legitimacy of President Morsi.”

Much remains unclear about the new political structure that will emerge, though Mohammed ElBaradei, the Nobel Prize-winning diplomat, has been chosen to represent the liberal opposition.

In a phone interview, ElBaradei sought to justify the military’s intervention, calling it a chance to fix the transition to democracy that he said had gone off track after the ouster of Mr. Mubarak.

“We just lost 2½ years,” he said. “As Yogi Berra said, ‘It is déjà vu all over again,’ but hopefully this time we will get it right.”

Many of those who are poised to exercise power in the emerging authority first got their jobs from Mubarak.

A Mubarak-appointed prosecutor general, Abdel Meguid Mahmoud, returned to his office after a court ruling pushed out the man appointed by Morsi to replace him.

Mahmoud, who was equally detested by critics of both Mubarak and Morsi, called his return to office “a message for every ruler: You must respect your judiciary, and you must respect your judges.”

The pre-Morsi foreign minister, Mohamed Kamel Amr, was also back in the post on Thursday. Amr had continued to serve under Morsi but had been sidelined as Morsi sent other aides to meetings with President Obama and other officials, and he resigned during Morsi’s final days, a major blow.

Amr held meetings with the foreign news media on Thursday aimed at refuting the idea Egypt had undergone a military coup.

Even the police force, much despised by Mubarak’s opponents for trying to quash the protests that pushed him from power, has sought to portray itself as standing with the people in the new era.

Fahmy Bahgat, an officer who often speaks for the security services, said in a television interview that the generals’ move “returned the police to the arms of the people once more.”

He also threatened those who challenged the new order.

“Whoever tries to show any support for the ousted president will be met with the utmost resolve,” he said.