CAIRO (AP) — An Egyptian kung fu gold medalist has been suspended by the sport’s national federation because he displayed an Islamist symbol showing support for ousted president Mohammed Morsi during a tournament in Russia, officials said Monday.
The online service of the state newspaper al-Ahram posted a photo of Mohammed Youssef wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with a picture of an open palm with four yellow fingers — the symbol representing a pro-Morsi protest camp violently cleared by security forces in August. In the photo, Youssef held his gold medal with his right hand while punching the air with a clenched left fist during the medal ceremony.
It quoted the federation president as saying Youssef also would be banned from a tournament next month in Malaysia.
Youssef flew to Cairo early on Monday from Moscow after being sent home early by the federation, security officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release the information. The player’s brother Hamam confirmed in a telephone interview with al-Jazeera Mubasher Misr that his brother was sent home early from the tournament because he displayed the symbol.
The suspension underlines the deepening divisions in Egypt, nearly four months after Morsi — the country’s first freely elected president — was ousted in a popularly backed military coup. His ouster followed protests by millions of Egyptians calling on him to step down and accusing him and his Muslim Brotherhood of acting undemocratically and trying to monopolize power in the latest crisis to roil the Arab world’s most populous nation since the 2011 ouster of autocratic ruler Hosni Mubarak.
More than 600 protesters were killed when Egyptian police moved in with armored bulldozers to clear the massive sit-in demanding the reinstatement of the Islamist leader near Cairo’s Rabaah el-Adawiya mosque. Tensions have spiked as the military-backed interim administration continued to crack down on the Brotherhood, arresting more than 2,000 senior and mid-level officials.
Islamic militants also have stepped up their campaign of violence, mainly targeting Egyptian police and soldiers since the coup, especially in the volatile northern part of the Sinai Peninsula, which borders Israel and the Gaza Strip.
The militants’ campaign mostly has been confined to the troubled peninsula that is separated from the mainland by the Suez Canal, but attacks outside Sinai have grown more frequent in recent weeks.
On Monday, gunmen killed three policemen at a security checkpoint in Mansoura, a city north of Cairo, according to the Interior Ministry. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the shootings, but such attacks are typical for militants opposed to Egypt’s military-backed government.
Despite the arrests of much of the Brotherhood’s leadership, Morsi supporters have pressed forward with protests to try to maintain pressure on authorities to release the toppled leader, who has been held largely incommunicado since his detention on July 3. He is due to go on trial on November 4 for allegedly inciting supporters to kill protesters outside his presidential palace in Cairo last December.
Police used tear gas Monday to disperse several hundred pro-Morsi university students who were rallying near Rabaah el-Adawiya, in eastern Cairo. As the protest got underway, army troops and police backed by armored vehicles blocked off the road leading to the site, creating a tense standoff that lasted hours. By late afternoon, the students retreated to their campus, while pelting security forces with rocks.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.