BEIRUT (Reuters) - The Syrian government, fighting to crush a two-year-old uprising against President Bashar al-Assad that started with peaceful calls for reform, said on Wednesday Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi should step down for the sake of his country.
Relishing the possible downfall of one of Assad’s most vocal critics, Syrian television carried live coverage of the huge street demonstrations in Egypt demanding Mursi’s departure.
“(Egypt‘s) crisis can be overcome if Mohamed Mursi realizes that the overwhelming majority of the Egyptian people reject him and are calling on him to go,” Information Minister Omran Zoabi was quoted as saying by the state news agency SANA.
He also called on Egyptians to stand against the “terrorism and threats” of Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood supporters.
The Syrian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood is one of the most powerful factions behind the mostly Sunni Muslim uprising against Assad, who belongs to the Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shi‘ite Islam, and is being helped by Lebanon’s Shi‘ite Hezbollah militia.
Mursi has expressed support for foreign intervention against Assad and attended a rally two weeks ago calling for holy war in Syria.
A month ago, Syria responded to a wave of protests against Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, another fierce opponent of Assad, by calling on him to halt what it said was violent repression and step aside.
Reporting by Dominic Evans; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky