CAIRO — A senior judge was sworn in as Egypt’s interim president Thursday to replace ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi as the military launched a major crackdown against the Muslim Brotherhood. Reeling from what it called a military coup against democracy, the group said it would not work with the new political system.
The sweep against the Brotherhood leadership included the group’s top leader, a figure venerated among its followers, General Guide Mohammed Badie. He was arrested late Wednesday from a villa where he had been staying at a Mediterranean coastal city and flown by helicopter to Cairo, security officials said.
The move against the Brotherhood raises deep questions over how Islamists will fit into Egypt’s new political system after the military on Wednesday swept out Morsi, the country’s first freely elected president. The military is installing a new civilian leadership to pave the way to new elections, saying it will stay out of politics.
The army says it did so in the name of millions of Egyptians who had taken to streets demanding he be removed. In the eyes of protesters, Morsi and the Brotherhood from which he hails had warped the democratic process. Many of them say the group has proven its anti-democratic nature and argue that its leaders committed prosecutable crimes.
But the Brotherhood remains a powerful force, with a highly organized membership nationwide.
The top opposition political grouping, the National Salvation Front, issued a statement Thursday saying, “We totally reject excluding any party, particularly political Islamic groups.”
The Brotherhood announced it wanted nothing to do with the new system.
“We declare our complete rejection of the military coup staged against the elected president and the will of the nation,” the Brotherhood said in a statement that the group’s senior cleric Abdel-Rahman el-Barr read to Morsi’s supporters staging a days-long sit-in in Cairo.