CAIRO — The wife of Egypt’s ousted President Mohammed Morsi told thousands of his supporters Thursday to remain defiant in the face of the military-backed government’s warnings that security forces will clear the ongoing protests, promising her husband ‘‘is coming back, God willing.’’
Naglaa Mahmoud made her first appearance since the July 3 military ouster, which followed mass rallies demanding her husband’s removal from office. He’s been held by military authorities since then. Her appearance on the first day of the Muslim holiday of Eid el-Fitr, marking the end of Ramadan, appeared aimed at galvanizing support after the Muslim Brotherhood fell from power after just one year of Morsi’s rule.
Wearing a flowing veil that covered most of her body, Mahmoud spoke to the crowds gathered at a sit-in at Rabaah al-Adawiya mosque in Cairo’s Nasr City suburb. She recited a verse from the Koran before delivering what she described as ‘‘good news,’’ saying Egypt ‘‘is Islamic.’’
‘‘We are victorious,’’ Mahmoud told the crowd, saying protesters would overcome.
Initially, the Egyptian press suggested that Mahmoud was held with her husband in an undisclosed location along with one of her children.
Demonstrators at Nasr City cheered her arrival to the makeshift stage. She did not say where she had been since her husband’s ouster.
Morsi is held with his top aides, a number of whom have been transferred over the past days to a prison in southern Cairo. They face charges including instigating violence in various incidents that led to deadly street violence.
The protest camp is one of two sit-ins by the Muslim Brotherhood and its allies. Protesters demand Morsi’s reinstatement, restoration of the suspended constitution drafted under Morsi, and the return of Morsi’s Islamist-dominated legislative council, which was also disbanded. Egypt’s interim leaders and the military say they’ll stick with a fast-track transition plan that calls for elections by early next year.
Critics believe the Brotherhood— one of the country’s oldest religious and political groups — is rejecting any mediation with the new government to spark a possibly bloody confrontation with the security forces. The Brotherhood publicly says the government has offered nothing, since it doesn’t want to restore Morsi to power.
Mohammed Aboul-Ghar, leader of Egyptian Socialist Democratic party whose members hold key posts in the new government, said the Brotherhood is holding its ground in hopes a crackdown could win them public sympathy.
‘‘The Muslim Brotherhood are political animals,’’ he said. ‘‘They are preparing for a comeback to power through ballot boxes. The way back is through winning support when bloodshed among its ranks turns the public against the Egyptian leadership.’’