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Egypt

Fatwa death edicts prompt Egypt to boost security for opposition

Security has been stepped up around leading opposition figures in Egypt after hardline Muslim clerics called for them to be killed. The Islamist government has condemned the so-called "fatwas."

Egyptian Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim on Thursday issued the order for police to deploy extra security at the homes of prominent opposition members.

Prime Minister Hesham Kandil warned that the religious edicts -also known as fatwas - could result in "sedition and disturbance."

"These extremist edicts are not related to Islam," the state news agency reported Kandil as saying. "The Egyptian people had a glorious January Revolution for the sake of establishing a democratic society where dialogue prevails, not killing."

'No mercy' threat

The fatwas came in response to recent violence that followed National Salvation Front (NSF) calls for protest against President Mohammed Morsi and his Islamist Muslim Brotherhood. The opposition accuses Morsi of trying to monopolize power.

Speaking on the religious television channel Al-Hafez, prominent radical cleric, Mahud Shabaan, accused NSF leaders of "setting Egypt on fire to gain power. The verdict against them under God's law is death,” he said.

The cleric mentioned by name two well-known Front leaders: leading dissident and the former head of the United Nations' nuclear watchdog agency, Mohamed ElBaradei (pictured second from left), and former presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabahi (pictured third from left).

Another hardline religious leader, Wagdi Ghoneim, issued a video declaring that, if the government didn't act against the opposition, private citizens would.

"We will kill the criminals, the thugs, the thieves and those who give them money and those who help them with words. No mercy with them," Ghoneim loudly declared.

The security order came a day after the assassination of Tunisian opposition leader Chokri Belaid, who was gunned down outside his home in the capital, Tunis. Belaid's family claim the killing was carried out by Islamists.

rc/pfd (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)