CAIRO – Egypt's president said on Sunday he may take unspecified measures to "protect this nation," two days after supporters of his Muslim Brotherhood and the opposition clashed in Cairo.
At least 200 people were injured in the violence, some seriously, outside the headquarters of the Brotherhood, Egypt's most dominant political group.
"If I have to do what is necessary to protect this nation I will, and I am afraid that I may be close to doing so," Morsi said on Twitter, adding that "attempts to show the state as weak are failing." The Islamist took office in June as Egypt's first freely elected president.
Morsi also warned that "appropriate measures" would be taken against politicians found to be behind Friday's violence, regardless of their seniority. Anyone found to be using the media to "incite violence" will also be held accountable, he added. His tweets came hours after Islamists staged a protest outside studios belonging to independent TV networks that are critical of the Egyptian leader.
The Islamists are protesting what they see as the biased coverage of Friday's clashes. The Brotherhood says it does not support the protest.
Friday's clashes followed an assault a week earlier by Brotherhood supporters on protesters painting hostile graffiti outside the group's headquarters. The protesters chanted hostile slogans and taunted Brotherhood supporters when some of them tried to stop demonstrators from posting flyers on the headquarters' outside walls.
The Brotherhood supporters also assaulted reporters at the scene. The group later said its supporters were provoked by the protesters and that the reporters were part of the protest.
Morsi's tweets made no direct mention of the clashes but appeared to be a prelude to measures against the mostly liberal and secular opposition.
"I call on all political forces not to provide a political cover for violence, rioting and attacks on private and public property," Morsi tweeted. "I will not be happy if investigations find some politicians guilty."
The latest bout of political violence was the worst seen in Egypt since at least 10 people died in clashes between supporters and opponents of Morsi in Cairo in December. Images of bloodied men from both sides were splashed across the front pages of Egypt's newspapers on Sunday and Saturday, giving the distinct impression of a nation torn by strife.
Violence and a quick succession of political crises are deepening the schism in Egypt between Morsi and his Islamist supporters on one hand, and moderate Muslims, secular and leftist Egyptians along with Christians and women on the other.