Sunni Islam’s highest authority on Wednesday called for restraint and dialogue and three members of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi’s advisory team have resigned as violent clashes raged in Cairo between rival camps in Egypt’s latest political crisis.
Al-Azhar Grand Imam Ahmed al-Tayyeb urged “all Egyptians of all persuasions to exercise restraint and to recourse to peaceful and civilised dialogue,” the state-run MENA news agency reported.
“The situation is deplorable. It’s a disaster,” he added speaking on state television, calling on “opposition and government supporters to put an end to (the crisis).”
“I call on the children of my country to save Egypt,” he said.
The crisis was sparked by a presidential decree on November 22 granting Morsi sweeping new powers and was exacerbated by a controversial draft constitution, objected to by opponents, which is set for a referendum on December 15.
Opponents want the draft charter and the presidential decree withdrawn, and have protested in their tens of thousands against Morsi and his Islamist supporters.
Egypt’s health ministry said late on Wednesday that at least 211 people had been injured in clashes between Morsi’s secular-leaning opponents and Islamist supporters, as riot police attempted to break up the violence.
The three members of Mr. Morsi’s advisory team that resigned over the crisis are Seif Abdel Fattah, Ayman al-Sayyad and Amr al-Leithy. They all tendered their resignations, bringing to six the number of presidential staff who have quit in the wake of a decree that has triggered countrywide violence.
The previously announced resignations included a Christian and a woman. They were part of a presidential staff assembled by Mr. Morsi, an Islamist, in an effort to build an inclusive administration.
Speaking to Al-Jazeera television, Mr. Sayyad said the three resignations announced on Wednesday had been tendered a week ago.
“We have tried, over the course of an entire week to solve it, but unfortunately we did not succeed,” he said.
“We announce now clearly that we failed.”