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Turkey, Egypt recall envoys in wake of violence

August 16, 2013

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey’s president called the violence in Egypt a “shame for Islam and the Arab world” Friday after the two countries recalled their ambassadors. Meanwhile, hundreds of Turks marched to denounce the crackdown on supporters of ousted Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi.

More than 600 people died when riot police backed by armored vehicles, snipers and bulldozers on Wednesday smashed two sit-ins in Cairo where Morsi’s supporters had been camped out for six weeks to demand his reinstatement.

On Thursday, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Egyptian leaders should stand trial for the military’s move against the sit-ins. Hours later, the two countries announced they were recalling their ambassadors for consultations.

Turkey’s Islamic-rooted ruling party had strongly backed Morsi — a leading figure in Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood — as an example for the Arab world of a democratically elected pro-Islamic leader. It has criticized his July 3 ouster by Egypt’s military, while also criticizing the West for what it has deemed an anemic response to an apparent coup.

Turkish President Abdullah Gul voiced more criticism Friday.

“I deeply feel the pain for every single Egyptian that was killed,” Gul said, according to the state-run Anadolu Agency. “All that happened in Egypt is a shame for Islam and the Arab world.”

Egypt’s Foreign Ministry had summoned Turkey’s ambassador to Cairo, Huseyin Avni Botsali, as a result of Turkish criticisms. But Gul rejected accusations that Turkey was interfering in Egypt’s internal affairs.

“Turkey’s warnings should be seen not as meddling in internal affairs, but as the sadness felt by a friend, the shock it experienced and as efforts to draw attention and to help,” Gul said.

Botsali returned to Turkey on Friday, telling reporters at Istanbul’s main airport that Turkey hoped Egypt would “return as soon as possible to a civilian administration and to a democratic process.”

Also Friday, funeral prayers were held mosques in Istanbul and elsewhere in Turkey for Egyptians killed in the crackdown. In the capital, Ankara, hundreds of people marched from a mosque toward the U.S. Embassy and then on to the Egyptian Embassy to denounce the killings.

Update hourly